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 Contemporary Native Arts

This summer marks the Washington State Historical Society’s 12th annual IN THE SPIRIT Contemporary Native Arts Exhibition. The show is displayed at the History Museum in Tacoma. Works on view will include textiles, sculptures, paintings, carvings, and basketry. Materials run the gamut from natural elements—stone, shell, clay, wood, minerals, and grass, for example—to products like seed beads, steel, fabric, glass, and linoleum, and even petroleum-based items such as LEDs, plastic straws, and Styrofoam.

Each spring, Native artists from many western states and Canada submit work for consideration by a jury of local artists and curators. The jury has the pleasure of seeing the latest in Native art, and the difficult challenge of winnowing down a selection of works for the exhibition. The 2017 exhibition includes 22 works by artists from Alaska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Washington, and Canada. This dynamic process provides an annual opportunity for the Washington State History Museum to showcase Native artists from the broader region, and for artists to win honors and awards. Each year the museum adds one work from the exhibition to its collection.

IN THE SPIRIT continues the connection between the Historical Society’s Native collections and the vibrant contemporary arts scene. The exhibition is ever-changing, reflecting the variety of works entered for jurying, the artists who choose to enter, the interests and backgrounds of the jurors, as well as changes in political and social contexts,” said Mary Mikel Stump, Director of Audience Engagement at WSHS. “It is an honor to meet these artists. Some works are deeply influenced by tradition while others use that tradition as a jumping off point for a more contemporary take, and, yet, some beautifully blend traditional methods and materials and contemporary forms. Truly, the past is present in these exemplary artworks.”

The exhibition is on view through Sunday, August 20, and is displayed in two adjacent galleries on the museum’s 5th floor. At the opening celebration on June 15, artist awards will be presented for Best in Show, Honoring Innovation, Honoring the Northwest, and Honoring Tradition. During the run of the exhibition, museum visitors can cast votes for the People’s Choice First and Second Place awards. Voting ballots are available in both galleries.

The People’s Choice awards will be presented at the free IN THE SPIRIT Northwest Native Festival. Mark your calendars for this indoor/outdoor celebration on Saturday, August 19, from 10:00 AM through 5:00 PM. The History Museum is co-hosting the festival with Tacoma Art Museum (TAM). Admission to both museums is free. In addition to a Native arts market, the festival includes dance, song, music, food, and a runway fashion show featuring Native designers. Both the History Museum and TAM have long celebrated Native American arts and culture, and the museums are pleased to collaborate in bringing this enriching festival to the community.

“The tradition of opening IN THE SPIRIT on Third Thursday makes the occasion extra special,” said Lead Program Manager Molly Wilmoth. “We can best honor the artists and feature their amazing works by opening the exhibition when the museum is accessible to everyone. We hope that the community will enjoy the opportunity to meet some of the artists in person and see their works.”

The History Museum is free every Third Thursday from 2:00 – 8:00 PM. Free Third Thursdays are generously sponsored by Columbia Bank.

washingtonhistory.org