The Condor and the Eagle: Moving Forward After Standing Rock is a Native art exhibition currently on display at the Elisabeth Jones Art Center in Portland, Oregon. The exhibition was inspired by benefactor and activist Elisabeth Jones who is a lifelong advocate for the environment, social justice, and peace. Sparked by the Dakota Access Pipeline protests of 2016-17, the exhibition asks the question “how have things changed” for Native people and the environment since the protests.
John Teply, Director of the Elisabeth Jones Art Center, said that even though the Dakota Access Pipeline protests are over “it is still an important issue.” Environmental and Indigenous civil rights issues continue to affect the current political landscape, and it is important not to lose sight of ongoing activism. The Elisabeth Jones Art Center is bringing art and activism together in an exhibition that honors the Native voice and vision in a way that is not typically seen in fine art galleries.
It is fitting that the exhibition is named for an ancient prophecy – The Condor and the Eagle – that expresses where we came from, where we are now, and where we are going. The prophecy, originating in the Americas, suggests that human societies are capable of making a connection between the mind and the heart, the individual and the community, to soar into a new level of consciousness together as one. The work of Water Protectors at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation during the Dakota Access Pipeline protests embodies this belief that great change can happen when people put their minds and hearts together for a common cause. In this case, both Native and non-native people united to protect water, land and people from environmental hazards in an unprecedented display of Native resistance.
WHAT YOU WILL SEE AT THE EXHIBIT
Sixteen participating artists, four of whom are Native Arts and Cultures Foundation fellows, are included in the exhibit. NACF fellows include:
Shan Goshorn (Eastern Band Cherokee), 2015 NACF National Artist Fellow, weaves Cherokee baskets from reproductions of historical manuscripts and photographs documenting key themes in modern Native history. Her work, The Value of Integrity, was created to maintain awareness of the ongoing struggle Native people face enforcing treaties and protecting natural resources. Inspired by the Water Protectors, she uses the official Lakota tribal press release announcing Indigenous efforts to enforce treaties in combination with the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty granting land to the Lakota tribe to weave her basket.
Nicholas Galanin (Tlingit/Unangax̂), 2017 NACF Mentor Artist, and Merritt Johnson created a mixed media installation for the exhibition titled, Building an Eye the better to see you. The piece celebrates the resourcefulness and creativity of Indigenous people. At each end of a table, figures with wolves heads, are paused in their work of constructing a drone – one is carving a wooden drone the other is beading camouflage for the drone. The drone, or eye, of this project is a scout modeled after drones that were used at Standing Rock to monitor activity by Energy Transfer and its private security during the illegal construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Cannupa Hanska Luger (Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lakota), 2016 NACF National Artist Fellow, was born on the Standing Rock reservation and created mirrored shields to help protect activists during the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. One of his pieces on exhibit, Iron Type, are screen prints depicting the Buffalo Nation to remind us that humanity is dependent on the land for survival. The prints include a bit of mirrored mylar cut into portions of the Missouri River. The mylar is the same material he used when constructing the Mirror Shield project.
Nora Noranjo Morse (Santa Clara Pueblo-Tewa), 2014 NACF National Artist Fellow, created, Remembering, a billboard that stands in front of the Cholla Power Plant in Arizona. Inspired by the billboards she saw as a child growing up with big bright images – selling gas and coffee alongside culture that both intrigued and confused her – she promotes a non-tangible concept. The concept of protecting the sacred in life no matter who we are, where we are from, or where we are going.
EXHIBIT CLOSES – August 23, 2018
2015 NACF National Artist Fellow
2017 NACF National Mentor Fellow
Cannupa Hanska Luger
2016 NACF National Artist Fellow
Nora Noranjo Morse
2014 NACF National Artist Fellow
Edgar Heap of Birds
Alongside the Condor and the Eagle exhibit is a series of in-house paintings based on interviews from people who were at Standing Rock. These painting were created by the Elisabeth Jones Art Center CoLAB, a community of artists who gather to create paintings inspired by upcoming exhibitions. The interview snippets are playing as part of a performance piece alongside the collaborative creations.
[Standing Rock] it’s a place, it’s actually a place. But it didn’t really get traction on a national level until it became a hashtag…
― Cannupa Hanska Luger (Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lakota), Interview excerpt, March 2018
Read Cannupa Hanska Luger’s full interview here.
Hashtag Prison, 2018
Original composition by Quin Sweetman. Painting by Quin Sweetman, Gates Callanan, Melissa Adriene Reifler, John Teply, Danny Popovici, Rachel Stone, Shan Ulsna.