FIRST NATIONS CONTEMPORARY ART
Exploring the Native American Experience in the Midwest
Virtual exhibition on view October 30, 2020
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What is the experience of First Nations people living in the Midwest? Perceptions, misconceptions, and identity are explored in this second annual exhibition of First Nations artwork. Presented in partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire American Indian Planning Committee.
Highlighting the works of Dawn Dark Mountain, an Oneida Indian artist from Wisconsin, Christopher Sweet, Ho-Chunk/Ojibwe from south central Wisconsin and Brittany Tainter, an Eau Claire based artist and a member of the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribe of Ojibwe.
Artist Statements and Bios
Statements and biographies are written by the individual artists and are published with their permission. The views expressed are their own. All artwork pricing is set by the artist and is non-negotiable and non-refundable. All artwork sales are by commission with Pablo Center at the Confluence. Your purchase supports our endeavors to present quality visual arts programming that is free and open to the public. Thank you.
Pablo Center at the Confluence occupies the sacred and ancestral lands of Indigenous Peoples. We honor the land of the Ojibwe and Dakota Nations. Artists of the First Nations tell their stories, share their experiences, and explore their identity in a diversity of mediums and styles in our second annual exhibit exploring the Native American experience.
Through the viewing of art in our virtual exhibits on our website, we can all have a common experience. We can gain an understanding of our community and our humanity by scrolling through the images of artworks that have been created by our region’s top artistic minds. We can reach audiences from across the world and those communities close to home that might not get to come into Pablo Center that often. Please be sure to read through the artistic statements and biographies of the artists on display, these words will add to the enjoyment and appreciation of the artwork and may give you further reason to purchase a work of art from Pablo Center. Who knows, it may even inspire you to take the next steps in your creative endeavor.
Christopher Sweet (Ho-Chunk/Ojibwe) from south central Wisconsin, studied at the Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe, N.M. His work is intertwined with modern art and native culture. His work varies from still life to abstract, but his main focus is the, incorporating of unity and healing. “Art was a gift given, but not pursued. Experiencing the pain of losing two daughters put me in a bad place, but a woman I now proudly call my wife came in to my life, helped heal me and reunite me with my gift of art. Now I focus all my creative energies toward unity and healing." Christopher and his wife Chrissy currently reside in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
When drawing, I lean toward charcoal as my most used medium. I appreciate the way I can blend and create texture directly with my hands and it somehow feels like I can connect better with each piece create. Much of my artwork serve as a way for me to examine and process the thoughts and feelings that I have in relation to my Indigenous culture.
Through the creation of the drawings in this collection, I was contemplating the forced cultural assimilation of Indigenous peoples. In the past, thousands of Indigenous children were sent to boarding schools, many through force, where the goal was to eliminate the cultural teachings and ways of life that they had been brought up with. In some instances, the children themselves were eliminated. This cultural genocide was just one of the many forms of trauma that was inflicted upon Indigenous peoples, and it continues to have an impact on families and communities to this day. In contrast to my drawings, my beadwork deals in light and healing. Our trauma may play a role in our lives, just as it would in any other group, but Indigenous cultures are also full of beauty, knowledgee, and wisdom. Beading is one of those beautiful aspects and is one of the most prevalent mediums of artwork in many Indigenous communities. The act of beading and wearing beadwork itself are forms of medicine, so I approach each piece I create with intention and while in a positive mindset. I mostly lean toward colorful and striking designs, but I also appreciate the range of styles that I can achieve in my beadwork.
Eau Claire based artist, Brittany Tainter, is a member of the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribe of Ojibwe. Originally starting her career as a Graphic Designer, her work now crosses many disciplines and often references Indigenous identity and place. She owns Giizhig Design Company, a small creative agency that offers graphic design, copywriting, and other services. Since starting the business in 2017, she has expanded her services and now creates and sells custom beadwork.
Inspired by the three-dimensional effect created by my controlled watercolor style, I have taken that effect to another level by actually creating a sculptural painting. These sculptural paintings include cutout pieces that are successively layered on top of the original watercolor painting. The layering is put together in such a way as to create a “three-dimensional” painting. This work expands on the idea of what a painting is; experimenting with three-dimensional formats, adding beadwork, wampum or other elements and taking the painting in a new direction. I also create works as relief prints using wood or linoleum blocks, printing with oil-based inks and adding watercolor to enhance the images. Recently, I have created monoprints using relief printing, watercolor collage and layering, including a triptych using all of these elements. My work has a strong connection to my cultural background. I also seek to draw connections between the cultures of the past and the contemporary life of Native peoples, following the paths that traditions and art have taken over the centuries and interpreting them in a new way.
Dawn Dark Mountain is an Oneida Indian artist from Wisconsin specializing in watercolors, who works with Woodland Indian subject matter and ideas. This subject matter combined with a very controlled watercolor style (often mistaken for airbrush) results in a peculiar mystical quality sometimes referred to as “magic realism”. An interest in art since childhood led Dawn to study at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and at the University of Arizona in Tucson where her emphasis was on watercolor. She graduated from the U of A with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and has taught art to both elementary and pre-school children. An Oneida Indian artist from Wisconsin specializing in watercolors, Dawn works with Woodland American Indian subject matter and ideas. This subject matter combined with a very controlled watercolor style (often mistaken for airbrush) results in a peculiar mystical quality sometimes referred to as “magic realism”.
Dawn is a member of the Turtle Clan of her tribe and she includes a turtle in every piece, sometimes obvious, sometimes hidden but always present. In addition to her paintings, Dawn also has a series of linoleum and wood block prints that are then completed with watercolor. Each of these blocks is carved and printed by hand, making each print unique. Dawn has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors including a fellowship and awards from the Santa Fe Indian Market, an Artist-in-Residency and numerous awards at the Eiteljorg Museum Indian Market, Indianapolis, IN, and awards, including Best of Show, at the Tesoro Foundation Indian Market in Denver, CO among others. Dawn’s “Treaty Calico Series” about the Treaty of Canandaigua is part of the permanent collection of Contemporary Native American Art at the New York State Museum in Albany, NY. Dawn was commissioned in 2006 to design a Pendleton blanket in honor of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and created another blanket with Pendleton in 2011.
Her work has been on book covers and posters, in magazines, and on several CD covers including Joanne Shenandoah’s 2005 recording of “Sky Woman”. Dawn’s work can be found in numerous shops and galleries throughout the United States. She also markets her work at various art markets, art fairs and art shows including Santa Fe Indian Market, the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C., the Heard Museum in Phoenix and the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis, IN.
All artwork pricing is set by the artists and is non-negotiable and non-refundable. All artwork sales are by commission with Pablo Center at the Confluence. Your purchase supports our endeavors to present quality visual art programming that is free and open to the public.