Sept. 7, 2017 – “ᎠᏍᎦᏯ ᎦᏅᎯᏓ (Long Men): the native streams and rivers of the land” by Joseph Erb (Cherokee)
Joseph Erb (Cherokee) is a computer animator, film producer, educator, language technologist and artist. 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 holds a BFA from Oklahoma City University and an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania. He is an assistant professor in the Digital Storytelling Program and Department of Art at the University of Missouri. 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.
Erb’s exhibition explored themes concerning the intersection between culture and water and celebrating the stories and struggles of the water, and it featured three sets of sculptural works, hung or mounted, and digital animation shown in three short movies. The movies lasted from 4 minutes to 8 minutes, and two featured Cherokee language with English subtitles. Learn more on his website and Instagram.
Aug. 3 – “A Fanciful Escapade” by Gina Herrera (Pueblo of Tesuque)
Gina Herrera (Pueblo of Tesuque) was raised in Chicago and currently resides in California. In her artist statement, 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.”
For Travois First Fridays, Herrera’s exhibition featured large sculptural works.
Herrera holds a BFA in art education from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. While she was a student, she was deployed overseas in support of several war contingencies with the United States Army. Once her final tour was complete, she obtained her MFA from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. As a graduate student, she was awarded a Provost Fellowship, an MFA scholarship and was nominated for the Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA Grant Program in 2012. Herrera received a full Native American Residency Fellowship from the Harpo Foundation to attend the Vermont Studio Center in 2013. Herrera has exhibited extensively in California and nationally and has received awards: she is a six-time ArtSlant Prize Showcase Winner, she received a Merit Award from Art Kudos and received an Award of Excellence from Manhattan Arts International.
Herrera’s dedication to service extends to all aspects of her professional life – from her 20+ years in the military to educating and inspiring the next generation as an art teacher at Arvin High School and as an adjunct professor at Bakersfield College. Learn more on her website, Facebook and LinkedIn.
June 1 – “Life Is Breathtaking” by Cannupa Hanska Luger (Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lakota)
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.” Luger “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 a 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 exhibited various groupings of ceramic and mixed media sculptural works including “Life Is Breathtaking,” a series of ceramic buffalo skulls informing the exhibition’s title and which represent various stages of commodification and perceived value. For all of the various artwork series presented, Luger uses materials that are emblematic of human civilization such as clay, textiles and steel to communicate our current collective experience and challenge systemic conditions such as capitalism.” Learn more on his website, Facebook and Instagram.
May 4 – “Rituals” by Porfirio Gutiérrez (Zapotec)
Porfirio Gutiérrez is a proud descendant of many generations of Zapotec weavers from Teotitlán del Valle in Oaxaca, Mexico. In his artist statement, Gutiérrez detailed his background: For over 2000 years, this town has been a wellspring of Zapotec textile arts and culture. Gutiérrez’s 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’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 Gutiérrez 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 NMAI. In 2015, Gutiérrez 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.
Travois First Fridays: “Rituals” by Porfirio Gutiérrez
March 2 – “Domiciles” by Chris T. Cornelius (Oneida Nation of Wisconsin)
Chris T. Cornelius, a citizen of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, 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 through 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.”
Pictured above from left to right:
“Radio Free Alcatraz: Territories,” 2014, Graphite, colored lead, applique film on Mylar, 18 x 24 inches.
Bear, 2009, Sculpture from copper mesh, brass, bronze, Hydrocal, cigar box, 20 x 25 x 8.5 inches.
“Domicile 03: New Year Moon,” 2011, Watercolor, graphite, colored lead, gouache, toner transfer, 8.2 x 10.1 inches.
Travois First Fridays: “Domiciles” by Chris T. Cornelius
Dec. 1 – Travois Design and JT Daniels
Drawings and structural models were on display to demonstrate how affordable homes in Indian Country can be green, beautiful and culturally relevant. The talented team of architects that make up Travois Design, led by Ashley Bland, are devoted to strong listening and engagement. This artistic team works closely with American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian partners through community charrettes to inform the design and development of homes, community centers, health clinics and government buildings that will serve generations to come. The Travois Design team includes Lauren DuCharme, Adam Teefey, Taylor Higgins, Jason Betts, Zach Higgins, Elsa Garcia and Shani King.
JT Daniels’ work is inspired by the story lines of people he’s talked to and shared spaces with. He is described as one of the most exciting emerging Kansas Citians. He works with youth and community-driven art programs to reflect emotion in design and display Kansas City’s stories, history and people in everyday public life.
Travois First Fridays: Community Inspired Design
Nov. 3 – Maura Garcia
Maura Garcia is a dancer and choreographer who collaborates within communities to create stories of identity and place. Originally from North Carolina, Maura is an indigenous woman (non-enrolled Cherokee/Mattamuskeet) who uses her art to form connections, uplift indigenous cultural values and explore the rhythms of the natural world. She collaborates to create multimedia, interactive shows and experiential workshops involving audiences.
Maura presented an interactive artist talk and performance at the Nov. Travois First Friday event.
Q&A with dancer and choreographer Maura Garcia
Oct. 6 – Matika Wilbur
Matika Wilbur, a Native American woman of the Swinomish and Tulalip Tribes, is a photographer and social documentarian. She is currently working on Project 562, a national documentary project dedicated to changing the way we see Native Americans through authentic images and real narratives from contemporary Native America.
Her “Seeds of Culture: The Portraits and Stories of Native American Women” exhibition was on view during October. Matika gave a powerful talk titled “Changing the Way We See Native America: Dismantling Native American Stereotypes.”
Matika Wilbur to kick off Travois First Fridays exhibition series
Sept. 1 – Anthony Oropeza
Anthony Oropeza is a Kansas City artist and designer who creates and produces sports paintings, fine and cultural art, comic book art and character art through his art and design studios: AOART5 and Strong Ave. Studios. He is also a writer, producer, publisher and creator of a bilingual comic book created for kids to promote reading (AMIGOMAN™). His comic book publication allows him to visit area schools to speak to students about what he does as an artist in creating, designing, writing and publishing his work.