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Archive for the ‘If the Indians Had Won’ Category

Finally, after two holidays, mother’s birthday, moving mother to a new facility with better care, cleaning up the mess left in the garage from the manic construction of 30 shipping crates and the house of the thick dust of sawdust that travelled from the garage for the construction of 30 shipping crates, I am able to post about the exhibition at the Museum of Northern Arizona, YOU ARE ON INDIAN LAND which I was privileged to have been a part of with the entirety of my project The Enculturated White Man: If Early America Had Embraced the Nobel Savage.

YOIL_Logo

The museum’s introduction to the exhibit found on their website http://musnaz.org/features/youareonlindianland/:

From the Comprising a range of materials and processes, You Are On Indian Land addresses issues of post-colonial acculturation, cultural appropriation and social dissonance. Photography, assemblage sculptures, installation pieces, and video work create a visual dialogue and critical perspective on Indigenous art while actively engaging the notion of pop-culture, misappropriation and stereotypical representation through powerful and thought-provoking work.

It was my responsibility to get the work from my home in NW Arkansas to the museum in Flagstaff, Northern Arizona. I was so looking forward to the trip with the help of my friend, Virginia who generously gave a week of her time away from a new job as Director for the local DRESS FOR SUCCESS.

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Virginia Germann

Originally hoping I could fit the work in a U-Haul trailer towed behind my truck. As the number shipping crates increased in size and number and filling the garage, I became increasingly overwhelmed with the size of U-Haul required to ship the project out west. Towing? Impossible! Finally, it was only going to fit in the largest truck and even then, with interpolation, four of the boxed work had to be stowed on their sides.

Tamara Ann Burgh

Locking up the truck

My anxiety over the weather during the three day trip through the often treacherous midwest (several months earlier in the year, in May, traveling through Oklahoma, I had encountered numerous blinding rainstorms and two tornados; one I knew was coming and the other viewed in full form over my left shoulder). My weather map showed light rain the first day, doable, with sun and those little wavy lines the other two days. Those innocuous little wavy lines, in reality, were gale force winds the length of Oklahoma, across the Texas pan-handle and the width of New Mexico. These were winds so strong it took the two of us to hold open the truck door on gas and coffee breaks. Over the east mountains pass into Albuquerque we encountered pouring rain, sleet, snow and the relentless wind. Our third day of travel into Flagstaff was a beautiful sunny welcoming gusty-only winds drive

We arrive early afternoon on Wednesday with the opening scheduled for Friday at 6:00 pm. Lots to do.

Tamara Ann Burgh

Arrival at Museum of Northern Arizona with curator Alan Petersen, Amber King, and Independent Curator Erin Joyce

Tamara Ann Burgh

A fraction of all the crates in the gallery and ready for unpacking

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Unpacking the work.

Tamara Ann Burgh

Preparing the banners for the two that hang on the wall.

Tamara Ann Burgh

Two wall pieces with banners.

Tamara Ann Burgh

A view of some of the installed work.

Install_View_2

Installation view

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Installation view

Tamara Ann Burgh

Installation view with two pieces also shown by artist Chanupa Luger.

Tamara Ann Burgh

Museum of Northern Arizona Director and CEO Carrie Heineken, Me, and Curator Alan Petersen

The_Artists

Artists from left to right: Steven Yazzie, Cannupa Luger, Michael Namingha, Tamara Burgh, Nicholas Galanin

From the museum’s website: Curated by independent curator Erin Joyce and the Museum’s Fine Art Curator Alan Petersen, YOU ARE ON INDIAN LAND features work by Tamara Ann Burgh (Eskimo), Nicholas Galanin (Tlingit/Aleut), Ed Kabotie (Hopi-Tewa), Cannupa Luger (Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara and Lakota), Michael Namingha (Hopi-Tewa), Steven Yazzie (Navajo), and interdisciplinary arts collective Postcommodity, which includes Raven Chacon (Navajo), Kade L. Twist (Cherokee Nation), and Cristobal Martinez (Chicano).

Also from the museum’s website:

“The exhibition looks at themes of liminality, reclamation of representation, and misappropriation of Native cultures,” said Joyce. “It examines not only the idea of indigeneity, but also what it means to be a Native North American artist working in non-traditional mediums.”

“Viewers will be compelled to reconsider their understanding of ‘Indian’ art,” said Petersen.

The title of the exhibition, inspired by the 1969-1971 American Indian Movement occupation of the island of Alcatraz, looks at the idea of contested landscapes in American, revised treaties and cultural imprisonment. The exhibition debuted at the Radiator Gallery in New York City and was mounted later at the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Art in Santa Fe in May.

Tamara Ann Burgh

Talking to members at the opening reception

Tamara Ann Burgh

Talking to members at the opening reception.

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Fifteen years after I set the first color pencil to a found early twentieth century photograph, the body of work (16 pieces) titled THE ENCULTURATED WHITE MAN: If Early America Had Embraced the Nobel Savage Instead of Attempting to Destroy it is coming to a finish. The work has been invited to to an exhibit in Flagstaff, AZ this November; details to come. During the following weeks I will be showing the series. A description of the work and my thoughts that inspired the work can be found on my website pages The Enculturated White Man.

The Enculturated White Man

EMW_01: 90″ X 27 1/2″ X 16 1/2″ Polychrome wood, color pencil on found B&W early 20th c photo, feathers, needlework, abalone shell, shell, sticks, twine, copper wire, cotton fabric, cotton velvet, buttons, gold braid.

It is difficult to get a sense of the scale with the above picture but the piece is 7 1/2 feet tall. The work is all done by me: color pencil drawing on found photo, needlework matting the photo, frame construction and carving and construction of the stands. This piece was inspired by Northwest Coast Native American Tribes.

The Enculturated White Man

EWM_01, Found early 20th c B&W photo altered with color pencil, carved polychrome wood, abalone shell, shell, twine, cotton, feathers, sticks, cotton material, cotton thread, silk, buttons

The Enculturated White Man

Found B&W early 20th c photo altered with color pencil by the artist, cotton threads, silk threads, cotton fabrics, buttons

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My last post declared I was finally done with the ENCULTURATED WHITE MAN: If the Indians Had Won project. I lied a little. Of the 16 pieces there are six in need of some finishing touches. Half way through the construction of the standing frames, I felt the pieces needed a soft touch added to the outside to compliment the extensive needlework on the interior matted pictures. I began at that point to add tassels to the outside corners. Which meant the first few needed to be revisited with the addition of a tassel or other visually soft decorative element. These decorative elements are also meant to invoke spiritual mystical elements. Maybe my next blog will address the creative intuitive process of the spiritual in the whole project.

This blog pictures the making of the EWM_09 frame tassels. My approach is organic. I did not have a finished picture of the tassels. I wanted a skirt, body and cap. The tassels skirt is cotton DMC thread and cotton embroidery thread. The color choices were hit and miss. The finished skirts shown here are the second set as the first set of mostly pink was not to my liking. Since this frame is a Pueblo theme, I thought to make the caps from an adobe mixture. And since I live in Arkansas, my adobe mixture is an improvisation of red clay-ish dirt, sand and a red sculpting wax.

If the Indians Had Won

The frame in need of tassels hanging from the lower roof corners.

adobe mix

Making the “adobe” tassel domes: red sculpting wax, sand and red dirt. I mixed the two dirts and sculpting wax in a tin can on a hot plate. The four finished caps are to the right. Sorry the picture is blurred.

Tassels, adobe

The cotton threads skirts are attached to the tassel bodies. Again, sorry for the blurred picture.

tassels, adobe

Finished tassels. 18″ High. Cotton threads, wood with milk paint, bead, “adobe”, leather

 

 

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Just can’t believe it. How many years? 15? It has been a long long long project but I did it! A tour de force: of tenacity and endurance. But I had fun every moment I was immersed in the work. But this is it: the last piece, number 16 of 16. There are some details among some of the pieces to be fixed or added to maintain consistency, but essentially the body of work THE ENCULTURATED WHITE MAN: If the Indians Had Won is complete. Here is the last completed piece:

If the Indians Had Won

38 1/4″ X 29 1/2″ X 14 1/4″
Frame: polychrome wood and cast wood putty, wood laminate, feathers, rabbit fur, leather, beads, silk fabric, cotton cording

EWM_07c-framed

EWM_07b-framed

Wood laminate flooring and trim on the roof. Making this pattern and applying the laminate was more difficult than I expected. Actually, the whole project turned out to be more difficult than expected!

Wood laminate flooring and trim on the roof. Making this pattern and applying the laminate was more difficult than I expected. Actually, the whole project turned out to be more difficult than expected!

 

Several pieces of wood laminate in four different woods were given to me by a good friend in Algoma, Wisconsin. He is married to my very good friend and artist, Brenda; owner of the Atelier Studio. A door laminate factory in Algoma was a long important industry there. My friend, a lifetime resident of Algoma, had collected over the years the “waste” trim pieces. He gave me a collection of various woods and I designed this frame to accommodate that gift.

To view the processes, construction and finished work of the entire collection click on “If the Indians Had Won” in the CATEGORY drop down menu to the right.

 

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WELL, I thought I could finish all sixteen pieces by the end of the year. Not likely I can manage the last one in the next five days. The Holidays put a damper on my work and caretaking for a mother with dementia, even though I have three 1/2 days a week and some evenings, it is difficult to keep the flow. I really did want to start the new year with an enormous sense of accomplishment but I can still pat myself on the back come February when the THE ENCULTURATED WHITE MAN: If the Indians Had Won project should, in fact, be finished!

Until I can celebrate “the end” here is a look at the next to last piece finished up a couple days ago — well, before Christmas festivities needed attending to (before that, Christmas decorating, before that my mother’s 91st birthday to celebrate, and before that Thanksgiving shopping, food prep, dishes . . . oy! too, too much!).

Here is number 15 of 16. The feathers I found among oak forest here in NW Arkansas while walking my dog. The reddish brown are probably from a Red-Tail Hawk and the black and white from a Cooper’s Hawk. The white weasel tails I have had since the 70’s when I lived with my Aunt and Uncle in the Alaskan arctic village of Golovin (my father’s birthplace). While living with my relatives in Alaska, I learned quite a lot about subsistence living including trapping squirrels (for food and making parky’s/parkas). During the winter my aunt stored moose meat in a shed with easy access by weasels. I had learned in the fall to trap and skin squirrels and thought I would try a hand at the weasels getting into the moose meat. I trapped and skinned the few I caught and saved the furs for all these years finally to become a part of this project. For more on my life with relatives in Golovin, go to the “My Eskimo Family” category.

If the Indians Had Won

Frame front: milk paint on wood, feathers, leather, beads, bone, silk fabric and thread, wool yarn, tin cones, felt
41 1/4″ X 23 1/2″ X 14″

The feathers mounted on the back of this frame is an intact grouse tail. Though much, if not most, of the natural materials for the entire THE ENCULTURATED WHITE MAN: If the Indians Had Won project were gathered by me in the wild, this grouse tail feather/s) I purchased at a booth at the Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque in 2003.

If the Indians Had Won

Frame back: milk paint on wood, feathers, leather, beads, bone, silk fabric and thread, wool yarn, tin cones, felt
41 1/4″ X 23 1/2″ X 14″

If the Indians Had Won

Frame side: milk paint on wood, feathers, leather, beads, bone, silk fabric and thread, wool yarn, tin cones, felt
41 1/4″ X 23 1/2″ X 14″

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It took three months but the 14th (labeled EWM_11) THE ENCULTURATED WHITE MAN: If the Indians Had Won frame is finished. Some pieces seem to flow with a rhythm and some just take their own sweet time no matter how I push it along. This frame also took on a life of its own ending up in a place I had not initially envisioned.  For one, it finished up much larger than intended. Also, the summer was interrupted several weeks in a row due to a camper breakdown in Ft. Collins (long story), too hot and humid to work outside, and caretaker responsibilities.  I recently attended an artist lecture where the artist claimed to have a catalogue of some 950 pieces.  unbelievable. I am sure he has someone to cook for him, clean for him, do the laundry and grocery shopping, doesn’t or never has cared for an elder parent . . . Anyway . . . . mustn’t spit out sour grapes.

Fortunately, I did have a glorious uninterrupted 8 days in Algoma, WI at my good artist friend’s, Bren Sibilsky,  Atelier Sculpture Studio where I was able to accomplish quite a bit.

Atelier Studio, Algoma, WI

My good friend, sculptor Bren Sibilsky, in Algoma, WI

AtelierStudio_frame

The raw construction. My Einstein hairdo — geniuses who think alike? or just the same hair?

The scroll work is cast wood putty. They designs were taken off an antique sewing cabinet drawer of my mothers. The castings were done with 100% silicone caulking. I’ve described my silicone caulk mold making in past postings.

The finished frame: polychrome wood, polychrome wood casting, cotton fabric, wool yarn, silver foil and enamel paint

EWM_12_front, 40” X 28” X 16”

EWM_12_front, 40” X 28” X 16”

If the Indians Had Won

EWM_12 front detail, with drawer

If the Indians Had Won

Medal detail taken from presidential Peace Medals from early to mid 19th century. The “medal” on this piece says: Peace and Enculturation

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My last post (March 23) showed the process for casting bear figures in wood putty. Four bears were cast for placement on the latest (14 of sixteen) frame for the ENCULTURATED WHITE MAN: If the Indians Had Won body of work. Following is the finished piece.

If the Indians Had Won

37 1/4” X 31” X 21” frame: polychrome wood and cast wood putty, ceramic tiles, feathers, wool yarn, bear claws, tin cones, deer antler, beads, sequins, raw cotton, silk ribbon

If the Indians Had Won

EWM_12bFramed back view, 37 1/4” X 31” X 21”, frame: polychrome wood and cast wood putty, feathers, ceramic tiles, wool yarn, bear claws, tin cones, deer antler, beads, sequins, raw cotton, silk ribbon

EWM_12cFramed_blog

Notes: I confiscated the bear claws from a necklace my dad had made with claws, deer antler and leather. The claws were from a kill he had made many years ago. The raw cotton (on top spindles) are from a trip I made with my mother to SE Arkansas in September, 2011. I had never seen cotton fields before and there was raw cotton strewn everywhere along the roads. I gathered a small handful wishing now I had collected more. I tied the raw cotton balls, uncombed with seeds, to the frame’s posts.

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