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August 21, 2011

Day Five in Santa Fe: Symposium and Films

023Can you believe that we have already been here in Santa Fe for five days? It has flown by and looking forward to the first official day of Indian Market.  You can tell it’s getting close because the roads around the plaza are closed and the white tents are going up.

Today had a repeat program featuring the KidFLIX! shorts which had a lot of kids coming with their parents to see these films. Click here to see xxx.

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The highlight program today was the second annual State of Native Art Symposium titled, “Collecting and Collectors: Investigating the Other Side of the Equation” where the panel addressed Native artists as art collectors and spoke about the evolving nature of museum collections.  The panel included Andrea Hanley (Navajo) director of the Berlin Gallery at the Heard Museum Shop in Phoenix, Ariz.; John Vanausdall, president/CEO of the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis, Ind.; Steven Karr, director of the Southwest Museum in Los Angles, Calif.; and Teresa Willis (Yakama/Cuyuse/Nez Perce), NMAI Board of Trustee member and personal collector.

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These four panelists spoke before a full room at the Santa Fe Convention Center with welcoming remarks by SWAIA executive director, Bruce Bernstein and moderated by NMAI director, Kevin Gover.  Some the discussion focused on the fact that collecting begins with a dialogue between artists, buyers, collectors and museums. Native art has risen from a local topic to a national and global level. It’s important to reach out to those first time buyers. What can galleries and museums do to expand their collections? It was clear from the panelists that there is not a large budget for acquisitions. Contemporary art collecting is something that is relatively new.  Most collections have been looking for traditional arts.  It’s great to be at events like the Indian Market to be able to start seeing up and coming artists that can fill the gap in collections.

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Are there such as thing as a young collector?  According to the panel and the audience, it always starts with one piece, often one that evokes an emotional reaction and/or heart palpitations.  According a collector, Bill Wiggins, he said that his collecting began with a trip to the Five Civilized Tribes in Muscogee, Okla. and his life has never been the same. He went on to collect 1-2 pieces each year and now has his collection at the Sequoyah National Resource Center in Arkansas. Great discussion!

The Native Cinema Showcase was rounded out by the screening of “Pelq’ilc/Coming Home” a film directed by Helen Haig-Brown (Tsilhqot’in). Her film follows two individuals in two communities of the Secwepeme Nation in BC that shares their experience in cultural renewal and recovery. The holistic education process they are engaged in is deeply rooted in language, family and tradition as a way to strengthen them and carry them forward as a people.

Lastly, we had Jason Ryle (Saulteaux), the executive director of imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival in Toronto, Ont. This collection of shorts from Indigenous filmmakers living in Canada reflects the diversity of works from the First Nations, Metis and Inuit artists. Some films included: “Tungijuq,” “Inuit High Kick,” “Savage,” and “Burnt.”

Keep an eye out for NMAI staff on the Plaza!

-          Leonda Levchuk (Navajo)

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