SUBMITTED By BETH JOHNSON
The New England Foundation for the Arts’ Native Arts program has a Native artist-exchange, pairing Native artists from New England with artists from the Eastern Band of Cherokee. This is an opportunity to see how Native American artists balance tribal tradition with artistic growth, and how the exchange of artistic techniques – both contemporary and traditional – honors their tribal origins.
“There is a mindset to keep to our own tradition and region,” says NEFA’s Native Arts program coordinator (and artist) Dawn Spears (Narragansett). “We need to acknowledge and respect that, and at the same time provide an opportunity for visibility of Native artists from New England and beyond.”
Another reason for participation is discovering how an artistic tradition has evolved after a population has relocated to a new region, and how the new local materials influence the artwork.
In seeking to grow the Native Artist Exchange, NEFA entered a conversation with the Eastern band of Cherokee in North Carolina about a possible partnership. The Cherokee leadership saw the opportunity for artists in their community, and a formal arrangement was made to match four New England-based Native artists with four Cherokee artists in a series of two exchanges: in Cherokee from July 16 to 20 (during the Cherokee Festival of Native Peoples) and in New England in September 2010. In addition to the artistic exchange itself, the artists will visit Native sites in Cherokee and New England to further deepen the exchange experience.
The four pairs participating this time are textile artists Elizabeth James Perry (Aquinnah, Wampanoag) and Kimberly Bottchenbaugh (EBCI), potters Brenda Hill (Tuscarora) and Darrin Bark (EBCI), musicians Jennifer Kriesberg (Tuscarora) and Paul Nelson (EBCI), and writers Fredda Paul (Passamaquoddy) and Geri Wolfe Grady (EBCI).
At the end of the first exchange there will be a reception for the artists to talk about their experiences during the weekend and to share what they accomplished. The reception will be Monday, July 19, at Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual from 4:30 until 6:00. Anyone interested in the program and especially those interested in participating in the program in the future are invited to attend.
This project exchange program is funded by the New England Foundation for the Arts and is supported by CPF and RTCAR. For more information please call RTCAR at 554-6925.
Beth is with the Revitalization of Traditional Cherokee Artisan Resources (RTCAR).