By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
The 57th La Biennale di Venezia (aka Venice Biennale), a world-renowned art exhibition, will include several American Indian artists this year. Shan Goshorn, an EBCI tribal member known for doing out-of-the-box baskets using printed archival paper as splints, will join Keli Mashburn, a photographer from the Osage Nation, and Marcelle Ernest, an Ojibwe filmmaker, in an exhibit as part of Venice Biennale known as “Wah.shka” which will be shown from May 11-19. The three native artists will also be featured in a symposium entitled “Wash.shka: Indigenous Arts and the Environment” which is set for May 15 from 10am – 12pm at the exhibit site at Casello delle Polveri on the Island of Certosa in Italy.
“Although being asked by the curators to be included in this three-person exhibit was an unexpected but wonderful surprise that humbles and thrills me, these feelings are nothing compared to the gratitude I have towards my Tribe for the ongoing support I receive from tribal members,” noted Goshorn. “It continues to be my goal to represent native people – and especially the Eastern Band – in a good way; to educate international audiences about the issues that are unique to native people. My current basketry work best illustrates the importance of informing people about the continued impact historic decisions have on Indian people today.”
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is an official sponsor for this event. During its regular Budget Council session on Tuesday, April 4, Tribal Council approved a financial support donation totaling $25,500 which consisted of three $8,500 donations – one each from Tribal Council, the Office of the Principal Chief, and EBCI Destination Marketing Department.
The resolution passed unanimously by Tribal Council in giving the donation stated in part, “Shan Goshorn has been selected to participate in the Venice Biennale, one of the most prestigious art exhibitions in the world…Shan Goshorn and her artwork bring positive attention to the history and culture of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians…”
Other sponsors of the Wah.shka exhibit include: Osage Nation Foundation, Occidental College, Autry Museum of the American West, Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition, Institute of American Indian Arts, We Crociferi, and Vento di Venezia.
The exhibit is being curated by Mary Bordeaux (Sicangu/Oglala Lakota) and Mancy Marie Mithlo, Ph.D. (Chiricahua Apache). Information from Mithlo states, “Wah.shka is an Osage tribal word that references a people’s ability to do your best, try hard, struggle, or make an effort. Intrinsic to this endeavor is strength and power…Wah.shka is concerned with Indigenous rights and responsibilities in light of increased urbanization and environmental destruction.”
Over the years, Goshorn has won numerous awards and recognitions for her artwork. Last year, she was named a United States Artists (USA) Fellow and awarded a $50,000 unrestricted grant. In 2014, she received a Native Arts & Cultures Foundation (NACF) Artist Fellowship, and in 2011, she won the AT&T Grand Prize at the 25th Annual Red Earth Festival in Oklahoma for a basket entitled “Educational Genocide: The Legacy of the Carlisle Indian Boarding School”.
For more information on the Venice Biennale, visit: https://www.labiennale.org/en/Home.html