By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
One Feather Asst. Editor
ATLANTA, Ga. – An art exhibit, featuring the work of Native American artists of various Southeastern tribes, is set to open next month. “This Land Calls Us Home” exhibit will be displayed at the T North Concourse at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport starting Nov. 6.
The work of five artists from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) is featured in this exhibit including that of Jody Bradley Lipscomb, Kristy Maney Herron, Levi West, Luzene Hill, and Madison Hye Long. In all, the exhibit features work from 26 Native American artists and is being presented by the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church.
“It was very unexpected to get the invite,” said Herron who has three photographs featured in the exhibit. “It seems like it will be a really great exhibit because of all the artists who submitted pieces. I hope to be able to see it in person since I’m not able to attend the opening. There are a lot of talented artists being showcased!”
One of Herron’s photographs is entitled “Sneak Peek at Red Clay”. Of that piece, she notes, “That photo was a total surprise. I help organize the Cherokee Heritage Celebration at Red Clay State Historic Park. So, while I’m there, I also take photos of the event to document and archive. I happened to be taking a photo of Diamond Brown’s family set up of their 18th century encampment. After I returned to work, I was going through photos and editing when I saw her peeking from the finger woven belts. She was so cute. I cropped around her and made that the focus of the photo which almost made me miss it when I was looking through my files to find their pics!”
Lipscomb said she is very honored to be included in the exhibit. “I am really excited that they wanted three pieces. I am glad my pieces fit into their design and categories.”
Her three paintings included in the exhibit are: “Under Construction”, “It’s Who We Are”, and “The Crying Tree”.
Lipscomb commented, “’Under Construction’ depicts a Cherokee basket maker constructing a white oak basket. Of course, the red bandana is my favorite. I love creating the texture in the basket. ‘It’s Who We Are’ is a Cherokee woman with the Syllabary on her body. I heard Jerry Wolfe (late EBCI Beloved Man) say, ‘our language is who we are’. I listened and painted.”
The exhibit idea was conceived by Rev. Chebon Kernell, a Seminole/Muscogee, who was the leader of Native American programming for Global Ministries and is now the executive director of the Native American Comprehensive Plan of The United Methodist Church.
He said in a statement, “This installation will be seen by tens of thousands of daily airport visitors. Later this fall, we will also launch an accompanying website for the exhibit that will provide global reach for this exhibit, further amplifying the voices of Native American and Indigenous peoples.”
Hill, who has several illustrations in the installation, said she was delighted to be included in the exhibit with other EBCI artists. “I hope this exhibit lends strength to the rising profile Indigenous artists, and Indigenous people in general, are experiencing. I continue to be surprised by the lack of knowledge the dominant society holds about us.”
She continued, “I hope this, and other exhibitions around the country – like the current landmark show at the National Gallery of Art, ‘The Land Carries Our Ancestors’, and several recent exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art featuring contemporary Indigenous artists, will bring greater awareness of our culture, not to mention our mere existence! I feel it’s an important milestone that Indigenous artists are at last being shown in mainstream museums and galleries – as contemporary, living people, creating complex and varied art.”
West has a pottery piece entitled “The Road to Soco” in the exhibit. At first, he was skeptical of the project. “When I was asked, I thought it was a scam at first. I couldn’t really find anything about it and thought ‘why would they be asking me?’ When I found out it was legit, it made me feel awesome to be asked and included in something like this with other local artists as well.”
Of his piece, he noted, “I really enjoy mixing mediums in my work. So, taking shell carvings or basket designs and working them into pottery is something I like to do. In this case, I took the Road to Soco textile pattern and made it 3D which I thought was a good way to bring those mountains to life. We are blessed to have such beautiful designs to draw inspiration from to keep those designs alive. I think our ancestors would smile to know that Cherokee people are still here making those designs thousands of years after they were created.”
Roland Fernandes, Global Ministries chief executive, said in a statement, “The installation offers a unique opportunity to help facilitate a greater understanding of Native American and Indigenous peoples of the Southeast. Many of the artists have close ties to specific ancestral sites now in the Greater Atlanta and Georgia region, which may be of special interest to travelers visiting the Atlanta area.”