Diversity in artistry: Development team visits American Indian art collection

The Travois development team took a few hours away from the office recently to visit the American Indian art collection at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art in Overland Park, KS.

We are fortunate that our office is a short drive from this internationally acclaimed museum, known for showcasing emerging and established artists.

The American Indian Art collection included contemporary pieces from many different mediums — including clay pots, paintings, photography, sculptures, and weavings. The Nerman’s collection included works from diverse array of Native artists — from the Pacific Northwest to the Southwest to the Great Plains.

Before touring the artwork, our guide asked us to read the creation story, Raven Steals the Light.” Many Alaskan Native groups and Pacific Northwest tribes tell a variation of this story to explain the creation of light in the world.

On our tour, we saw a couple pieces of art in the exhibit that reference this story. The beautiful glass piece below, “Raven Steals Moon” by Preston Singletary (Tlingit), shows the raven with the ball of light in his beak.

We also saw a piece from an artist many on the Travois development team are very familiar with, Wendy Red Star (Crow).

Travois is lucky enough to have prints from Wendy’s “Four Seasons” piece in our office, and she visited our office last year. At the Nerman, they have a dress created by Wendy —“Untitled (silver)” — in the exhibit. It is a variation of a traditional jingle dress worn by female dancers for powwow dancing. The jingles in Wendy’s dress are made from tobacco cans, and she used bright silver fabric and riff raff to create a completely unique look. This dress makes an appearance in her photography as well.

My favorite piece was the below collage titled “We Are Still Here” by Frank Big Bear (White Earth). The collage layered historic pictures of American Indian leaders with contemporary pictures of Natives.

Between pictures of the American Indian Movement (AIM) of the 1970s and stunning photos of Natives in powwow regalia today, the collage powerfully exclaims “We are still here!”

This statement rings true today as Natives continue to fight for water rights, funding for housing and economic development, access to quality healthcare, and more.

We all had a great time visiting the Nerman Museum, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone visiting the area!

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