On Wednesday, December 9, at 2 p.m., the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., presents artists Maura Garcia, Porfirio Gutiérrez, Linley Logan, and Theresa Secord talking about their art, their research at the museum, and their plans to share what they've learned with their communities. The four artists are in Washington as part of the museum's Artist Leadership Program for Individual Artists. The forum, titled "Bringing It Home: Artists Reconnecting Cultural Heritage with Community," will be moderated by Dr. Gabrielle Tayac (Piscataway Indian Nation), a historian at the National Museum of the American Indian. The program is free and open to the public. It will also be webcast live and archived on the museum's YouTube channel.
"Reconnecting cultural heritage" could serve as the mission statement for the Artist Leadership Program. The program for individual artists brings indigenous artists of the Western Hemisphere to Washington to do research in museum collections and to explore new artistic insights, skills, and techniques; the artists then return home to share with their cultural communities and the general public the value of Native knowledge expressed through art. A second track of the Artists Leadership Program works with local museums, arts organizations, and cultural institutions in the United States and Canada to provide similar opportunities for indigenous artists to do research at the regional level, develop their skills and vision, and encourage personal growth and community development through art.
Speaking Wednesday will be:
Maura Garcia (Cherokee/ Mattamuskeet), from Kansas, works in dance and multimedia performance. Maura plans to incorporate elements from the museum's collections in her work with the youth of the Kansas City Indian Center to create an urban Indigenous public performance. Her primary research focuses on the Cahokia and Spiro sites and the central Mississippi Valley mound sites within 500 miles of present-day Kansas City.
Porfirio Gutiérrez (Zapotec), from California, is a master Zapotec weaver who works with natural dyes. Porfirio is researching Zapotec textile art fabrication techniques to verify that methods used in the past are still in use today. He will do his community project near the city of Oaxaca, Mexico, in Teotitlan del Valle, a town known for its traditional Zapotec weavings made with fibers dyed with local plants and insects.
Linley Logan (Tonawanda Seneca), who lives in Washington state, works with Seneca beadwork designs. Linley will do his community project in Tonawonde Onondowaga Yoindzade, his traditional Longhouse community in upstate New York. His primary research focuses on Seneca/Iroquois beadwork clothing patterns, as well as clothing materials such as porcupine quillwork.
Theresa Secord (Penobscot), from Maine, is a nationally known as an ash and sweetgrass basketmaker. As a response to the loss of ash trees due to insect infestation, Theresa is researching Wabanaki basketry to learn more about other non-traditional materials in weaving practices, such as basswood fiber and cedar. She will share her knowledge and experience from the Washington visit with the Penobscot Nation and other Wabanaki basketmakers at the Hudson Museum at the University of Maine and in the Penobscot tribal community on Indian Island, Maine.
If you can be free Wednesday afternoon, join us at the museum for what promises to be a wonderful presentation or follow the webcast live. If that's not convenient, bookmark this page and come back in a few days. By then, we'll have a link to the video on YouTube.
Photo credits: Maura Garcia courtesy of Maura Garcia Dance on YouTube. Porfirio Gutiérrez courtesy of Porfirio Gutierrez y Familia. Linley Logan from the artist's Facebook page. Theresa Secord courtesy of the First People's Fund.