In the Spirit

What is happening in the Indigenous art world in our region? Find out at the 13th annual IN THE SPIRIT Contemporary Native Arts Exhibition, where you can see 29 works from 21 Native artists. The exhibition opens Saturday, June 30 at the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma and will be on view through Sunday, August 12. There will be three opportunities for visitors to meet some of the artists as well: the awards ceremony on July 1, 3:00 PM; gallery talks on Third Thursday evening July 19, 5:30 PM; and the Northwest Native Festival on August 11, 12:00-7:00 PM.

IN THE SPIRIT connects the Washington State Historical Society’s (WSHS) Native collections with the vibrant contemporary arts scene. Visitors will see mixed media, paintings, beadwork, textiles, sculpture, carving, and basketry. Many of the artists live in Washington but others hail from Idaho, Montana, Michigan, Minnesota, and even as far as Vermont and Virginia. Art collectors will be interested to know that most of the works in the show are available for purchase.

Artist RYAN! Feddersen spoke about the connection that IN THE SPIRIT provides. “As a mixed-heritage native artist living in an urban area, contemporary Indigenous arts is one of the ways I connect to my culture. In the Spirit provides an annual opportunity to bring together native artists to share work and create cultural dialogue. Receiving the Honoring Innovation award for my work in the 2017 exhibition made me feel recognized and supported. I look forward to engaging with this exhibition as it continues to grow and acknowledge the thriving contemporary Indigenous arts field.”

Each spring, Native artists from many states and Canada submit work for consideration by a jury of local artists and curators. The 2018 jury included artist Alex McCarty, Makah, a graduate of Evergreen State College; curator and artist Asia Tail, Cherokee, a graduate of Cooper Union School of Art in New York; and Lynette Miller, head of collections at WSHS.

“The jurying is blind, meaning we don’t know the artists’ names until we have selected the pieces to be exhibited,” said Miller. “I enjoy being surprised when an artist creates something that’s completely different from the work they submitted in earlier years. I love seeing the creative spirit at work!”

The Washington State Historical Society typically adds one work from each annual exhibition to its collection, and the selection is announced at the artist awards ceremony (in 2017, RYAN! Feddersen’s mixed media sculpture Micro Spill was chosen). The 2018 artist awards will include Best in Show, Honoring Innovation, Honoring the Northwest, and Honoring Tradition, along with the purchase prize. During the run of the exhibition, visitors can cast votes for the People’s Choice first and second place awards. Ballots are available in the gallery, and People’s Choice winners are revealed at the culminating festival.

The free IN THE SPIRIT Northwest Native Festival is an indoor/outdoor celebration on Saturday, August 11, from 12:00 to 7:00 PM, co-hosted by the History Museum and Tacoma Art Museum. Celebrate the diverse cultures of the Northwest with a Native arts market, dance, song, music, food, and a designer runway fashion show. The day will end with a performance by special guests Khu.éex’ (pronounced koo-eex), a band co-founded by artist and musician Preston Singletary. Khu.éex’ translates to “Potlatch” in the Tlingit language.  The History Museum and Tacoma Art Museum are excited to bring this immersive festival experience to the community.

For more information, see www.inthespiritarts.org.

 

IN THE SPIRIT

The Washington State Historical Society will hold its 11th annual summer public event on Saturday, Aug. 13, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Washington State History Museum, 1911 Pacific Ave. in Tacoma. IN THE SPIRIT Native Arts Market and Festival highlights handmade Native American artwork and features musicians, dancers, demonstrators, traditional Native foods, and much more.

In addition to the nearly 20 vendors, some of the performers will include:

  • Vince Redhouse, Grammy-nominated Navajo flute player born and raised in California. He has played music since the age of seven and continues to love creating music. Not only will he be the first performance of the day, but will also be selling his CDs and other merchandise throughout the day as a festival vendor.
  • Alaska Kuteeyaa Dancers, who have performed at the IN THE SPIRIT festival every year since its inception in 2006 and tend to be a crowd favorite. Tiny Barril has an incredible ability to tell native story through song, dance and presence. Adorned in button blankets and masks, the group can transform the museum into a gathering about a fire in the Alaskan wilderness.
  • Rona Yellow Robe Walsh, named the 2014 Native American Museum Awards’ Flutist of the Year. She is a member of the Chippewa Cree Tribe and was born and raised in Montana. Rona has three albums available and has performed at IN THE SPIRIT for several years.
  • The Le-La-La Dancers from Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. They have traveled and performed as a traditional Kwakwaka’wakw dance company throughout the world for over 25 years. Their performance will highlight various spiritual entities through dancing, music and masks. They often play a large role in performances at the annual Aboriginal Cultural Festival in Victoria.

The IN THE SPIRIT Contemporary Native Arts Exhibit opened at the History Museum on May 28. Native American artists submitted their works for consideration by a jury who selected pieces for inclusion in the show. The jury then selected the following winners:

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During the extent of the juried art exhibit, which can be viewed at www.InTheSpiritArts.org, museum patrons have been voting for their favorite piece. The Washington State Historical Society  will present the winner with the highly-coveted People’s Choice Award during the Aug. 13 festival. The exhibit closes the following day.

This year’s market and festival will take place inside the History Museum due to ongoing construction on the Museum’s outdoor plaza and amphitheater. For more information on the construction project, please visit www.washingtonhistory.org/construction.