[top: World Renewal—Lyn Risling, Hupa, Yurok, Karuk; bottom: Pimnáanih—Fox Anthony Spears, Karuk]
World Renewal Through the Eyes of Native American Artists
Humboldt State University’s Goudi’ni Gallery presents Fixing the Earth: NOW! February 21 to April 27, an exhibition that sheds light on the traditional tribal practice of healing the earth through World Renewal Ceremonies.
Through their art, 16 professional and emerging Native artists from local tribes—Hupa, Karuk, Yurok, Wiyot, Tolowa and Ts’nungwe—explore their World Renewal Ceremony practices and the spiritual worldview of Northwest California Indian culture. Cultural presentations accompany the artworks on display, during the opening reception on Thursday, February 21, from 5-7 p.m. The public is invited to attend the free event.
Co-curator Julian Lang describes the exhibit “as an exciting idea for a growing Native identity in northwestern California.” He and co-curator Lyn Risling invited Native artists to look at the spiritual practice of World Renewal through their own “unique, creative lens.”
The artists responded in a variety of ways, embracing both the contemporary and the traditional. Artist Frank Tuttle found that the artist’s role and participation in the Fixing the Earth: NOW! exhibit “embodies the essence of a Fix-The-Earth attitude.” Through the making and exhibiting of art, “the indescribable intent of a Fix-The-Earth commitment moves back and forth from the deepest ground of Creation to every day of our lives.” He describes this essence as “a mercurial awareness that as a Human Being—a Native Human Being”—he has “a physical and spiritual responsibility to honor nature and share.”
For artist Fox Anthony Spears, the goal in making his ink and colored pencil drawings is to “shift the perception of Native cultures from looking backwards in history to building new Indigenous futures.” Additionally, he recognizes, “While we live in the now and are always looking to the future, old knowledge is still relevant” and “the ritual of rebirth is an ancient story that is shared across cultures and continents.”
This story of renewal is found in the traditional baskets of artist Deborah E. McConnell. It is her “lifestyle and responsibility to teach for the continuance of weaving and all that it entails.” As part of a holistic cycle, McConnell brings an appreciation and respect to each aspect of basket-making: “Hiking in the mountains with other weavers collecting plants… teaching youth and adults weaving techniques and processes, implementing traditional land management practices and using baskets for their intended purposes.” Through the process she finds that “there is an intrinsic connection between the basket maker, the environment, the basket and the use of the basket.”
This exhibition has initiated an ongoing dialogue about World Renewal and art among the artists, cultural leaders and community members. Artist Cheryl Tuttle says, “I like to think that we fix the earth one piece, one day, one thought at a time and I try to do my part.”
Fixing the Earth: NOW! invites viewers to enter the dialogue about healing the earth and developing a better understanding of World Renewal Ceremonies and how they have informed the work of these Native artists.
The exhibit is partially funded by HSU Instructionally Related Activities Fees, the HSU Center for Indian Community Development, the Seventh Generation Fund and Bert and Nancy Steele. It runs February 21 through April 27, 2013 with an opening a reception Thursday, February 21, from 5-7 p.m. The Goudi’ni Gallery is located on 17th Street and Union, on the first floor of the Behavioral and Social Sciences building. Gallery hours are 12-5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, 12-7 p.m. Thursday, 12-5 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday. For more information, call (707) 826-5814.