With a focus on North American Indigenous artists, Travois First Fridays jurors selected nine professionals to share their artwork as part of a visual art exhibition series at the Travois office in the Crossroads Art District, 310 W. 19th Terr. in Kansas City, MO. The series started in fall 2017 and resumed in March 2018 with Chris T. Cornelius of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin.
“Contemporary Indigenous artists tell their communities’ stories, share their culture and drive economic growth,” Travois President Phil Glynn said. “At Travois, we have the honor and privilege of working with Indigenous people, helping bring affordable housing and economic development to Native communities. Travois First Fridays was created to bring attention to talented Indigenous artists who share their artworks, stories and cultures.”
On the First Fridays dates listed below, Travois will be open to the public from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Preregistration is available on the Travois website at https://travois.com/news-events/first-fridays/.
Appetizers will be provided, while supplies last, along with two drink tickets for guests (21 and older) who preregister prior to each event. Stockyards Brewing Company is a co-sponsor and will provide craft beer. For each First Fridays opening, the participating artist will give a brief artist talk to introduce his or her work at 6:30 p.m.
Photographer and Social Documentarian Matika Wilbur (Swinomish and Tulalip) was the series’ founding launch artist. Her “Seeds of Culture: The Portraits and Stories of Native American Women” exhibition was open in October and November 2017, and she gave an artist talk: “Changing the Way We See Native America: Dismantling Native American Stereotypes.”
On Friday, March 2, Chris T. Cornelius (Oneida) presented his “Domiciles” exhibition. Chris Cornelius is an associate professor of architecture at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee who focuses his research and practice on the architectural translation of culture; in particular, American Indian culture. He is the founding principal of studio:indigenous, a design and consulting practice serving American Indian clients. In his artist statement, Cornelius said the work in this exhibition “examines the nineteen-month American Indian occupation of Alcatraz Island from November 20, 1969 to June 11, 1971. The occupiers took the island by asking the U.S. Government to honor a treaty they had made 100 years prior. They did not want the island for financial or political gain; they wanted it to create an American Indian cultural center that included American Indian Studies, and American Indian spiritual center, an ecology center and an American Indian Museum. My work supposes, ‘What if they got what they wanted?’ and I will be designing the results.” Cornelius’ exhibition included process drawings and models, in addition to a three-minute video about his “Wiikiamaami” installation in Columbus, IN.
Upcoming artists and exhibitions are:
Friday, May 4: Porfirio Gutiérrez (Zapotec) | “Rituals”
Porfirio Gutiérrez is a proud descendant of many generations of Zapotec weavers from Teotitlán del Valle in Oaxaca, Mexico. For over 2000 years, this town has been a wellspring of Zapotec textile arts and culture. His father, who was a master weaver, saw his potential and took every opportunity to help him develop and refine his artistic skills as a weaver. As Porfirio Gutiérrez’s talent grew, his appreciation for his Zapotec heritage and traditional arts deepened, and his personal expression has been influenced by stories told by his elders about cultural rituals, ceremonies and the Zapotec way of life in the past. When he eventually settled in California, the artistic roots that were deep set in Oaxaca soon expanded to include influences from life in urban America. His work has now been shown in eight countries on four continents. The story of his art has been told in publications such as the New York Times and videos televised on PBS, Univision, as well as a documentary funded by the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI). In 2015, he was chosen by the Smithsonian Institute to be one of only four artists in the Western hemisphere to participate in their prestigious Artist In Leadership Program. Gutiérrez continues to be a tireless advocate, educator and ethnic ambassador for traditional Zapotec arts and culture. His “Rituals” exhibition will feature eight of his works.
Friday, June 1: Cannupa Hanska Luger (Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lakota) | “Life Is Breathtaking”
Born in North Dakota on the Standing Rock Reservation, multidisciplinary artist Cannupa Hanska Luger comes from Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lakota, Austrian, and Norwegian descent. His artist statement explains that his “work communicates stories of complex Indigenous identities coming up against 21st century challenges, including human alienation from and destruction of the land to which we all belong. He provokes diverse publics to engage with Indigenous peoples and values apart from the lens of colonial social structuring.”
Luger’s practice combines critical cultural analysis with dedication and respect for the diverse materials, environments and communities he engages. He is known for his ceramic innovations, interpreting the material with patience and experimentation. He also tells stories using fiber, steel, cut-paper, video, sound, performance, monumental sculpture, land art installation, and social collaboration. Luger holds a BFA in studio arts from the Institute of American Indian Arts. He was recipient of the 2016 Native Arts & Cultures Foundation National Artist Fellowship Award and has participated in artist residencies and institution lectures throughout the nation. He maintains a studio practice in New Mexico. His work is collected and exhibited internationally.
For Travois First Fridays, Luger will exhibit artwork from his series “Life Is Breathtaking,” described as “a reminder to recognize one’s mortality.” The buffalo skulls in the series represent different stages of commodification. The first, “Time Devours Things,” is the object itself in a controlled specimen form. The next stage is antiquity, special because it is gone, titled “Thus Life.” The third stage titled “Without Sun Silence” is preciousness, as in material value, like a facetted stone.
No July opening
Friday, August 3: Gina Herrera (Pueblo of Tesuque) | “A Fanciful Escapade”
In her artist statement, Gina Herrera said: “While my heritage incorporates the Tesuque Pueblo and Costa Rica, my strongest affinity is to nature. While serving in Iraq, amid the devastation of combat, my visceral reaction to miles of mountainous trash heaps, the evidence of systematic yet unconscious destruction of our planet led me to question my own practices. I began to build assemblages out of discarded and natural objects. I am engaged in an aesthetic and spiritual ritual to channel and honor Mother Earth. I constantly gather materials, finding inspiration in my surroundings. Like a scavenger, I play an interventional role in removing garbage from the landscape, preventing further damage. I am also drawn to natural materials and organic forms. My process is meditative and intuitive. Figures emerge, in gravity defying poses on the brink of movement, alive with possibility. Their haunting spiritual presence reminds us they have not gone back to the earth but asks us to question the choices we make in our daily existence.” Her exhibition will feature sculptures.
Friday, September 7: Joseph Erb (Cherokee) | “ᎠᏍᎦᏯ ᎦᏅᎯᏓ (Long Men): the native streams and rivers of the land”
Joseph Erb described his work in his artist statement: “The purpose of my research and creative production is to advance the Cherokee culture and language. Social justice and activism is the base philosophy of my interdisciplinary work. Indigenous people face some of the worst disparities in the country in education, health and environmental safety. Art, music and cultural expression have always been positive ways that Indigenous people have persevered. However, Indigenous art has been stereotyped, commodified, and at times stolen from the first communities in which they were born. I believe my role is to provide creative venues for my community members to take back ownership of their stories and express them in ways that are meaningful to them. This includes sharing stories in new ways so that children and grandchildren can have access to them in the future.” Erb is an assistant professor in the Digital Storytelling Program and Department of Art at the University of Missouri. He holds a BFA from Oklahoma City University and an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania. He works in the fields of 2-D and 3-D animation; digital storytelling; fine art — painting, metal and textiles; Native American and Indigenous studies; Cherokee language technology and Cherokee studies.
Friday, October 5: Luanne Redeye (Seneca Nation of Indians and Hawk Clan) | “Remedy/Reconcile/Rebuild”
Born in Jamestown, N.Y., Luanne Redeye grew up on the Allegany Indian Reservation in Western New York. Redeye currently lives in Albuquerque, NM. An enrolled member of the Seneca Nation of Indians and Hawk Clan, she studied at the University of New Mexico receiving her MFA in 2011. She has exhibited throughout the U.S. and has been the recipient of various awards including most recently the Barbara and Eric Dobkin Fellowship at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, NM. In her artist statement, Redeye said this is where she draws inspiration incorporating community and family members into her paintings, giving her works a strong personal and emotional component. She said she “uses painting as a way to see others. Working primarily in oil, [I] depict the relationship between perception and experience of Native identity through genre scenes, designs and portraits.”
Friday, November 2: Dakota Mace (Diné (Navajo)) | “Kéyah (Land)”
Dakota Mace is a Diné (Navajo) artist from Albuquerque, NM. She received her MFA and MA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Madison, WI, and her BFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM. She is currently pursuing a second MFA in Textile Design in the School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Madison, WI. Her work focuses on translating the language of Diné weaving history as well as beliefs through different mediums and techniques. This serves as not only a different approach to cultural reclamation and preservation but also the importance of the meanings of the motifs used in her work. Mace feels that in order to understand a culture you must do so through design in order to understand the relationship to land and self. She continues to look to other cultures as forms of inspiration while teaching others about the importance of cultural appropriation in relation to Native American design. Her exhibition will feature 15 of her works.
Friday, December 7: Nelda Schrupp (Pheasant Rump Nakota First Nation) | “ME”
Nelda Schrupp was born the youngest of 11 children to Cecilia and Henry McArthur. She grew up on White Bear Indian Reservation, Carlyle, Saskatchewan, and attended various boarding schools. In her artist statement, Schrupp said, “From a young age I have been interested on sewing, beading, and working with my hands. When I would come back from boarding school, my mother would teach me her techniques of sewing (where I started on an old pedal Sears sewing machine), or hand stitch cloth and leather. My mother would have me work on small projects patching cloths, and as I became more proficient, I would help sew dance regalia. I have always been interested in working with my hands. Her teachings have been very instrumental in my ability to cloth my family in hard times. I have beaded on a loom, and directly on to regalia. I have been called upon numerous times to teach moccasin-making, willow-weaving, bead-working, and even quill work, which is not used by Plains Indians.” Her exhibition will feature 10 artworks, to include wall hangings and jewelry.
Upcoming in 2019
In 2019, Holly Wilson will also exhibit artwork as part of the series. Wilson (Delaware Nation/Cherokee) is a contemporary multimedia artist who works in a variety of media including bronzes, encaustic, photography, glass and clay. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Kansas City Art Institute in 1992 in Ceramics and a Master of Arts in Ceramics in 1994 and her Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture in 2001, both from Stephen F. Austin State University, Texas. Wilson now works and lives in Mustang, OK.
About Travois First Fridays
The Travois First Fridays jury of artists and Kansas City industry professionals selected the indigenous artists out of applicants who responded to a nationwide open call. Jurors for the series include: Gina Adams (Ojibwa-Lakota descent) contemporary hybrid artist and faculty at Naropa University; Bruce Hartman, executive director of the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art; Gaylord Torrence, senior curator of American Indian art at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art; Thomas Farris (Otoe-Missouria, Cherokee), manager of Exhibit C Gallery; Sherry Leedy, artist and Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art; Rachael Cozad, Rachael Cozad Fine Art and former director of Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art; Madison Group Fine Art Appraisals; Norman Akers (Osage Nation), artist and associate professor and director of graduate studies at the University of Kansas; and America Meredith (Cherokee Nation), artist and publishing editor of First American Art Magazine.
Travois First Fridays is a visual art exhibition series featuring North American indigenous artists at the Travois headquarters in the heart of metro Kansas City. Our mission is to support and promote American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian artists through juried exhibition. Our vision is to see Native artists more prominently featured and powerfully supported in metropolitan Kansas City. More information about the juried exhibition series can be found at https://travois.com/news-events/first-fridays/.