Partnering to Keep Artists Engaged and Connected

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The Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (NACF) recently launched a series of virtual, interactive professional-development sessions geared towards NACF’s 2020 Mentor Artist Fellows and their apprentices to help deepen their artistic careers and practices. The first session in the series took place virtually in early fall, and was conducted in partnership with The Autry Museum of the American West. The session, titled Connecting with the Autry Museum of the American West, provided the eleven mentors and their apprentices with a deeper look inside the Autry’s collections and online resources, including tips and tools to navigate and utilize these online research tools while many of them are working from home and unable to visit museums in person due to the pandemic.

NACF’s Mentor Artist Fellows and their apprentices had the opportunity to hear from the Autry’s Joe D. Horse Capture (A’aniiih), Vice President of Native Collections and the Ahmanson Curator of Native American History and Culture, and Liza Posas, Head of Research Services and Archives. Horse Capture and Posas shared an overview of the museum’s history and development, including the merger with the Southwest Museum of the American Indian in 2003, when the museum absorbed over 238,000 Native American items for its collection. They also provided background on the Resources Center of the Autry, a 100,000 square foot facility scheduled to open in 2021, which is designed to properly house and care for the Autry’s collections.

Posas provided the artists with an in-depth look into how to navigate and conduct research using the Autry’s Collections Online as well as the Library and Archives Catalog. The museums online collections database contains thousands of digital images of artworks, cultural materials, books and more. To demonstrate how to locate and research specific pieces in the collections, Posas showed a work by Mentor Artist Fellow Earl Atchak (Cup’ik Eskimo). The artwork, The Ancient Hat, was acquired by the Autry in the mid 2010s and was carved from a single piece of driftwood, inlaid with white walrus tusk ivory, and stained seal skin leather.

The Autry team generously offered to assist the artists in navigating their online resources and conducting research following the session, which includes granting the artists with research-level access to the museum’s online collections.

Native Arts and Cultures Foundation is grateful to the Autry Museum of the American West for their continued partnership and commitment to enriching NACF’s Mentor Artist Fellowship program. We would also like to thank and acknowledge Diana Terrazas (Bishop Paiute Tribe), the Autry’s Community Outreach Manager, for her invaluable contributions and support in planning the virtual session.

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