Friday, July 29, 2011

The 8th Contemporary Iroquois Art Biennial: Four Artists Under 30

By Eva Fognell, Curator of the Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection of American Indian Art

We are getting ready for the 8th Contemporary Iroquois Art Biennial exhibition and this years’ theme, Four Artist Under 30, is promising to be an exciting exhibition of young talented women artists. It will open at Fenimore Art Museum on August 27th and be on view until December 31. As in previous years the show is organized and curated by Peter Jemison (Seneca). Peter is a well-known artist and the Director of Ganondagan Historic Site in Victor, NY.

Here, Peter describes the show:

This year the exhibit features the work of four young women from the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois Confederacy; Lauren Jimerson, Seneca; Awenheeyoh Powless, Onondaga; Leah Shenandoah, Oneida; Natasha Smoke Santiago, Mohawk.

The artists are influenced by their heritage as Haudenosaunee but have sought unique ways to express their individual vision. Perhaps the most traditional in terms of media is Lauren (who is in her final year at Rochester Institute of Technology). She uses pastel on paper to create portraits including a self-portrait. 

 Crop Rot
Lauren Jimerson

Awenheeyoh is a recent graduate from the Rochester Institute of Technology and incorporates Iroquois music and traditional dance steps to create paintings with her feet on un-stretched canvas. In this process she listens to women’s dance songs through head phones and then steps in acrylic paint barefooted to apply it to the canvas using footsteps associated with Iroquois women’s dances.

Dance #4
Awenheeyoh Powless

Leah (M.A., Rochester Institute of Technology) has focused on three dimensional objects that are a cross between sculpture and painting. They are made of stretched fabric on a wire frame to which paint has been applied as a stain. They are exhibited hung from the gallery’s ceiling in a grouping. She is also a jeweler using copper and silver to create large necklaces.

Installation view of Leah Shenandoah's artwork

Natasha is a self-taught artist who has been actively exhibiting her art since she was a teenager. She casts the bellies of pregnant women then forms sculptural objects incorporating traditional Haudenosaunee craft techniques such as pottery making or basketmaking. The bellies are turned into pottery, or fancy baskets with materials resembling splints.

 Belly Basket
Natasha Smoke Santiago

They have each found their unique voice at a relatively young age and they extend the tradition of art making among the Haudenosaunee, combining art school training and traditional knowledge of their heritage, to produce a new form.

Past Iroquois Art Biennials have featured art by the master carver Stan Hill (Mohawk), sculptor Diane Shenandoah (Oneida), painter Peter Jemison, and ceramicist Peter Jones (Onondaga) among others. We are looking forward to this year’s installation with great anticipation. We hope to see you here at the museum August 27 - December 31st.

1 comment:

Suzi said...

Very talented young women! Bravo!

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