The Gary Farmer Gallery and Institute of American Indian Arts Museum are going to be showing my art during Indian Market in Santa Fe next month. On the surface this may seem like a simple blurb, but it goes beyond simple commerce and plugging another exhibition. Santa Fe is where our son was born, we built our first house, made life-long friends, and I learned the art of teaching there. It is also the birthplace of my Fly by Night Mythology art. My wife Debi and I established ourselves as a part of the community in a very unique manner. It is where we lived when I went to graduate school down the road at the University of New Mexico and earned my MFA much in the same manner as I had an impact at the Institute of American Indian Arts, where I helped transform the Photography area from obscurity into a living, vital place. It is where Debi was a plaza vendor for years, which helped pay our living expenses while I was in grad school. She always had a steady stream of both of our friends stopping by, just to stit and chat. Many of her close friends worked across the street under the Portal at the Palace of the Governors selling their jewelry to support their families back at the Pueblos.
Anyone who lives in Santa Fe knows that it is often a difficult place to live with its own unique challenges. All I can really say is that a really great body of my art was initiated in the cauldron of our experiences there. It took heat for this to be born. Wow, did it ever. Regardless, we love Santa Fe, the many people we grew to be very connected to, and for this, it will always be a second home. Santa Fe will always strike an emotional chord that has the essence of what it means to be who we are, for better or worse, we are fused in a vital manner.
I learned how to be a teacher at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) back in the early 1990's and was soon asked to Chair the Two Dimensional Arts area and serve as a leader in our Faculty Council. I loved teaching there because we enrolled gifted Indigenous students from all over the country. I could relate to those students because I had a similar background to many of them and had to fight the same battles. I would always encourage our students to make art that defined their experiences on this earth, whatever that meant. In the book "Migrations, New Directions in Native American Art," I wrote, "By being partly raised by our grandmother, who was born in the late 1800's, gave my siblings and I an atypical worldview- and an unusual strength and deep connection to our identity. We were raised in turbulent times that challenged our very existence as Tlingit people- from experiencing racism in our everyday lives to having the government refuse our claims to our traditional homeland and our right to exist as a sovereign nation. Our experiences are not unusual... many of our friends and relatives have similar stories, and they continue to forge powerful bonds that go deeper than blood."
This is what I meant about having a natural connection to our students at IAIA. We fought (and continue to fight) the same battles mentioned above, and the special thing that I brought to my teaching there was the ability to nurture their inner strength in order to make art about what it may all mean. What I miss terribly about teaching there is how easily the students negotiate their way to finding significant meaning in their own art. IAIA will always be a special place to learn art, and I really love my connection and contributions that I was able to make. This is why I feel so good about showing my art there. The work that I'm showing at the IAIA Museum is distinctly vintage stuff from early in my career, the 1980's and early '90's.
My art at the Gary Farmer Gallery is the Fly by Night Mythology work, including my most recent lithographs made at both the Tamarind Art Institute and the Crow's Shadow Art Institute (Crow's Shadow was started by James Lavadour) on the Umatilla Reservation. The collaborating printer at Crow's Shadow was Frank Janzen. It is a true collaboration because the printer has so much influence as to how the lithograph is going to look and the artist relies heavily on their artistic experience and deftness as a master printer. See the below entry on the Tamarind experience. Gary Farmer has been having an eclectic series of exhibitions of Indigenous art from artists from all over America and Canada. I have a body of work that offers an interpretation of a bit of the illogical and sometimes wondrous things that comes from humanity.
The art at the Gary Farmer Gallery is showing from August 9 to September 16th at their gallery on 131 West San Francisco St.
The IAIA Museum is showing my work from August 16 to September 4th at 108 Cathedral Place.
Indian Market is the week of August 12th and lots of the main events are happening on Saturday August 18th. It is sponsored by the ever-venerable Southwestern Association for Indian Arts. Back in the early '90's I convinced them that they should include Photography as a medium of expression for their artists and they readily agreed. I helped organize an exhibition of Photography for Indian Market and arranged for the first exhibition of SWAIA Indian Market photography to be exhibited at the IAIA Museum. Theresa Harlan curated the show and it was juried just like all of the other categories. If you've never been to Santa Fe, this is the time to see it, when it is awash in some of the finest and most innovate art being made today.
Friday, July 13, 2007
Posted by Larry McNeil at 2:38 AM