Contemporary American Indian Artists from Upper Midwest Featured in New Exhibit Opening September 23

Floral design by Jessica Gokey

Published August 4, 2017

ST. PAUL –  Original beadwork, birch bark and textile artwork by five contemporary American Indian artists will be on display alongside the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) artifacts that inspired them, in the new exhibit “Renewing What They Gave Us: Native American Artists in Residence,” Saturday, September 23, 2017-Sunday, April 22, 2018, at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The artists, Jessica Gokey, Pat Kruse, Denise Lajimodiere, Gwen Westerman and Holly Young, created the artwork as part of the MNHS Native American Artist-in-Residence program. Since 2014, the program has helped revive the study of technique, knowledge and lifeways associated with traditional forms of American Indian artistry.

Floral vest by Lakota Holly Young

For centuries, American Indian artistic and cultural practices have been passed down from one generation to the next. But this process experienced disruptions when American Indians were pressured to assimilate with other cultures and when they were removed from their traditional homelands to reservations. At the same time, many museums and cultural organizations, like MNHS, grew their collections of American Indian artwork.

Today, MNHS acknowledges its role in this disruption and is working to become a resource for American Indian communities. MNHS believes that museums can assist artists in connecting with works created by their ancestors and can provide support for learning, practicing and teaching. It is critical for museums to support the recovery of cultural art forms that are in danger of being lost altogether.

Exhibit text will be presented in Ojibwe, Dakota and English. The exhibit is free with regular History Center admission of $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, veterans/active military and college students, $6 ages 5 to 17, free age 4 and under and MNHS members.

The Native American Artist-In-Residence program is open to artists from Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota. Each artist serves a six-month paid residency to study the collections at MNHS and other institutions to aid in a better understanding of their respective art forms. They also share their knowledge by developing programming in their home communities.

The Native American Artist-in-Residence program is made possible in part by a grant from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation.

Funding for “Renewing What They Gave Us: Native American Artists in Residence” exhibit is made possible in part by the Henry Luce Foundation and the Summer Fund. Additional support is provided by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the vote of Minnesotans on Nov. 4, 2008.

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