Artist Talks Focus on Indian Boarding Schools, Traditional Music at Watermark Art Center

Published February 21, 2019

BEMIDJI, Minn. — Watermark Art Center will host two upcoming events associated with the exhibit Madwewe – It Is Heard, currently on display in the Miikanan Gallery.

Kent Estey is one of the artists featured in the exhibit. On February 28 at 6 p.m., Estey will give a presentation titled, “Picking Sweetgrass with Ma.” The presentation will focus on the story of his grandmother, Josephine Robinson. Robinson was an Ojibwe Black Ash basket maker who lived on the White Earth Reservation during the time when native traditions and culture were banned and getting an education meant going to boarding school. She was one of the first Ojibwe people to go to the Carlisle boarding school.

Estey will share her story from published articles and recordings from the 1960’s and 70’s. Examples of her basketry will be on display, as well as a collage piece Estey created for the Madwewe exhibit.

The following day will be a presentation by Xilam Balam Ybarra. Ybarra’s traditional clay flutes are included in the Madwewe exhibit. On March 1 at 5 p.m., Ybarra and his wife, Rebekah, will introduce the flutes in a traditional manner and share about their significance in the Mayan culture. The presentation will involve both discussion and playing of the flutes. Following this, Ybarra will do a demonstration on how to make traditional clay flutes. The demo will be ongoing until 7 p.m.

Ybarra is a 2018 Mcknight Ceramics Fellow. He works in a variety of mediums including music, ceramics, painting, screen-printing, stone carving and epigraphy. He is also the co-founder of Electric Machete Studios, a Latinx art & music production house in St. Paul.

Madwewe – It Is Heard is a multi-media exhibit including work from artists Kent Estey, Rod Northbird, Angela Two Stars and Xilam Balam Ybarra. There are so many ways to hear culture – through songs, words, sounds and more. From instruments to images, this exhibit shares stories that reassure us of the rich and beautiful diversity in the Indigenous world. The exhibit will be up through March 30.


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