From the Spring 1995 issue of The Messenger, the Wheelwright Museum’s former tri-annual newsletter.

Expressions of Spirit: Contemporary American Indian Art
February 4 though May 10, 1995
Klah Gallery
Members’ preview: Saturday, February 4, 1995 * 5:30 to 7:30 pm
Public opening: Sunday, Febrary 5, 1995 * 1 to 5 pm

In the exhibition EXPRESSIONS OF SPIRIT: Contemporary American Indian Art, there are 29 works by as many artists. Jurors Lynette Miller (curator of the museum) and Joe Feddersen, Colville (printmaker) decided to include works by as many entrants as possible. Though the exhibitors are all Native American, the work is wide-ranging and eclectic. Each approaches what she or he wants to express in a different way. Some pieces are indistinguishable from other 20th century art, while others clearly refer to the artist’s Indian cultural background.

Each in its own way, these works continue the integration of non-Indian materials into Indian-made items. Beadwork, thought of by many as characteristically “Indian,” was an adaptation of European-supplied glass beads to previously existing designs and usages within each tribe. (Of course, adaptation works the other way too: consider the Indian origin of corn and potatoes and a host of other things.)

There may be moments of discomfort when viewers face works such as John Feodorov’s painting If An Indian… The momentum of pain and enforced change that Native Americans have endured since the coming of Europeans is like a river that flows through contemporary Indian art: sometimes underground and not seen; sometimes rushing along right on the surface. Indian artists of today often speak out against efforts made in the recent past to erase all that was Indian, and affirm that the spirit has survived and is still connected to basic values of tribe, family, land, and ceremony. It is impossible to generalize about what constitutes contemporary Native American art. Such generalizations often serve to create new stereotypes. And old stereotypes, too, must be confronted. Though the negative ones of the past are mostly gone, the overly-romanticized and “primal” ones still have currency. Exhibit curator Lynette Miller says “Our definition of Native American art must expand to include these artists who create new traditions by building on traditions of the past. For them, the experience of being an artist is suffused with the spirit and tradition of Native American culture.”

Alphabetical list of artist in EXPRESSIONS OF SPIRIT (with title of piece and media):

Jay Carrier, Onondaga Iroquois. From the Nothing’s Sacred Series, 1994. Mixed media

Kenneth Clark, Tlingit/Creek. Kinetic Profile #5. Cibachrome photograph.

Gerald Clarke, Cahuilla. Native Form II, 1994. Mixed media.

John Feodorov, Diné (Navajo). If an Indian…, 1992. Oil on  canvas.

Anita Fields, Osage. Turtle Woman’s Purse #2, 1994. Clay.

Laura Fragua, Jemez/Pecos. A Pathway of Our Future, 1992. Mixed media.

Michael Gray, Chippewa/Cree. Rocky Boy, 1993. Acrylic on canvas.

Cheryl A. Grunlose, Colville. Won a set’s Dream. Etching.

John Hoover, Aleut. Sea Weed People, 1993. Bronze.

Conrad House, Diné (Navajo). Biil, Cloth.

Alex Jacobs, Iroquois. Indian Radio 1, 1993. Acrylic and vinyl on canvas.

Paula Keliiaa, Washoe. Rattle with Incidental Sculpture, 1994. Raku and limestone.

Rosemary Lonewolf, Santa Clara. Motor Mouth, 1993. Mixed Media

Mario Martinez, Pascua Yaqui. Dawn Wilderness World, 1994. Acrylic on paper.

Raymond Nordwall, Pawnee/Chippewa. Out of the Morning Mist, 1994. Collagraph.

Robert Orduño, Gabrieleño. Power of the West, 1994. Mixed media.

Open Perkins, Pima/Gila River. Cultural Ghost, 1993. Mixed media.

Susan A Point, Musqueam. Timeless Journey, 1994. Carved glass

Ricardo Rojas, Yaqui/Tarahumara. Me Das Vida Mi Corazon, 1992, Mixed media.

Mateo Romero, Cochiti, Untitled, 1993. Encaustic on board.

Beverly Jose Sacoman, Mescalero Apache. Blanket Maker, 1992. Oil on canvas.

Tim Shay, Penobscot. Wabanaki Basket Maker, 1993. Colorado marble

De Haven Solimon, Laguna/Zuni. To Feel Father Sun’s Rays Upon Our Faces, 1994. Acrylic on canvas.

Robert Sorrell, Diné (Navajo). Red Suit, 1994. Monoprint.

Glory Tacheenie Campoy, Diné (Navajo). The Bennett Freeze-Chair, 1994. Acrylic on canvas.

Robery Dale Tsosie, Diné (Navajo). Guardian of the Fields, 1993. Steatite

Holly Wilson, Delaware. False Face, 1994. Mixed media.

Kelvin Yazzie, Diné (Navajo) Beso Kachina #1, 1994. Mixed media.

Margaret Wood, Diné (Navajo/Seminole). Ainu/Kwakiutl, 1994, Mixed media.