NMAI announces recipients of new grants program

Staff Reports / Indian Country Today

WASHINGTON - Kevin Gover, Pawnee/Comanche and director of the National Museum of the American Indian, announced the inaugural awards for the museum;s new Visual and Expressive Arts grants program.

The museum's newest grant program offers support to a wide range of arts activities with the goal of increasing knowledge, understanding and appreciation of contemporary Native arts. ''The National Museum of the American Indian considers the recognition of living artists of the Western Hemisphere to be of the utmost importance,'' Gover said. ''These grants will strengthen scholarship and create opportunities for new and innovative work in this underserved field.''

Grants are made in two funding areas, the visual arts and the expressive arts. Visual arts awards support exhibitions and installations of contemporary American Indian art, as well as publications and critical writing. The expressive arts category supports the creation and presentation of new works with an emphasis on collaboration.

Visual Arts grants

The Art Association of Jackson Hole will host the traveling exhibition ''Marie Watt: Blanket Stories,'' organized by the Nicolaysen Art Museum in Casper, Wyo. Watt, Seneca, explores the symbolism of blankets within American Indian culture and includes quilts, stacked blanket works and cedar and bronze sculpture.

The ''Ili-ho: The Surface Within'' exhibition will explore, from an indigenous perspective, four textile treasures from the Bishop Museum in Honolulu: a feathered cloak, a makaloa mat, a kappa and a moving protest quilt.

Cultural Resources Inc., in conjunction with the Maine Indian Basket Alliance, will organize the traveling exhibition, ''North by Northeast: Wabanaki, Akwesasne, Mohawk and Tuscarora Traditional Arts.'' The exhibition will feature beadwork, basketry, woodcarving, birch bark canoe making and other traditional arts to increase the visibility of regional artists David Mose Bridges, Passamaquoddy; Marlene Printup, Tuscarora; Henry Arquette, Mohawk; and Jennifer Neptune, Penobscot, among many others.

The Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Williamette University and the University of Washington Press will co-publish the exhibition catalog, ''Joe Feddersen: Vital Signs.'' The exhibition is a retrospective of the work of multimedia artist Feddersen, Colville.

The Nicolaysen Art Museum will present a retrospective exhibition, titled ''David Bradley: American Indian Gothic,'' as part of its contemporary American Indian art series. Bradley's, Minnesota White Earth Chippewa, paintings combine a folk narrative style with political and social messages concerning Native life and culture. He also draws from icons of Western art history to craft his paintings.

As part of the restoration of Stanley Park in Vancouver, British Columbia, which was damaged by a windstorm in 2006, the Stanley Park Environmental Art Project brings together artists to work in collaboration with ecologists, park stewards and educators to create site-specific artwork. Tania Willard, a multimedia artist from the Secwepemc (Shuswap) First Nation of British Columbia, will create work responding to new evidence of Native history in the park and integrate the knowledge of elders.

Expressive Arts grants

Composer and cellist Dawn Avery, of Mohawk descent, from Rockville, Md., along with percussionist Steven Alvarez, Yaqui/Mescalero Apache/Upper Tanana Athabaskan, and violinist Tara-Louise Montour, Mohawk, will form a new Native classical chamber music trio, Three Sides.

Narratives by poet Janet-Marie Rogers, Mohawk/Tuscarora, videography by Chris Bose, N'laka pamux, and a narrative ceremony led by elder Jan Longboat, Mohawk, will accompany three original works by Dawn Avery.

Tsimshian artist and performer David Boxley from Anchorage, Alaska, will teach a Tsimshian dance to the Alaska Native Heritage Center dancers, oversee the inaugural performance of that dance and produce a working box drum for use during ANHC dances and theatrical performances. He will serve also as executive producer for a performance of a new play based on Tsimshian cultural traditions and provide a mask-making workshop for ANHC staff, who will use the mask in the performance.

''Cauyaqa Nauwa? - Where is My Drum?'' is a collaboration between Yup'ik storyteller Jack Dalton and Yup'ik singer and dancer Stephen Blanchett. Their story will trace the history and relate the importance of the cauyaq, or drum, in Yup'ik culture.

''Home: Inside & Out,'' a series of vignettes, will express the connections to home that delve into the deep sense of belonging and identity that connects Native Hawaiians to place, family, friends, values and emotions. New dances will be choreographed by fusing a mixture of traditional hula, creative movement and dramatic staging.

The Witness Project is a collaborative, multidisciplinary work by choreographer Tom Pearson, Coharie/Creek/Eastern Band Cherokee; composer-performer Louis Mofsie, Hopi/Winnebago; and performer Donna Ahmadi, Cherokee/Chickasaw. These artists will visit the sites and communities of their respective Native lineage and create a series of vignettes that explore the issue of identity and an attempt to understand and reconcile the realities of being mixed-race Native artists living and working in an urban landscape.

The Tomaquag Indian Memorial Museum of Exeter, R.I., has a project titled ''Places, Memories, Stories and Dreams: The Gifts of Inspiration'' that will harness the power of storytelling, music and digital media to build cross-cultural understanding of the relationship between tradition and geography in Native culture. Niantic-Narragansett storyteller Paulla Dove Jennings will visit several culturally relevant historic places, and each story will be video and audio recorded. The stories then will be digitally edited, and music performed by the Nettukkusq Singers will be incorporated and available on DVD.

Playwright Rhiana Yazzie, Navajo; visual artist Carolyn Anderson, Navajo; choreographer Emily Johnson, Yup'ik; and Pangea World Theater dramaturge Meena Natarajan will draw together their talents to create the one-person play ''Ady,'' about the life of dancer-artist from Guadeloupe Ady Fidelin.

Thirteen grants totaling $145,000 will support artists and cultural collaborations across the country, from Maine to Hawaii. For more information, visit www.AmericanIndian.si.edu.

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