Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Native American Art Studies Association conference in Ottawa

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

I recently spent an interesting 5 days in Ottawa attending the 18th Native American Art Studies Association (NAASA) conference. It is a biennial event hosted at a different location each time. What the locations all have in common is a rich cultural scene with Native American art collections at their museums. This time we were guests on Algonquin land.

The program started with a board meeting for the members of the Otsego Institute for Native American Art History at one of the member’s houses.

Otsego Institute Board members; seated (left to right) Ruth Phillips, Aldona Joinaitis, Joe Horse Capture, Janet Berlo, standing (left to right) Jolene Rickards, Aaron Glass, Richard Hill and myself. (Evan Maurere and Jon Holstein could not make it to Ottawa.)

The Otsego Institute is a biennial conference and workshop held here at the Fenimore Art Museum for graduate students and junior professionals. The next Institute will be held May 20- 25th, 2012. Up to twelve participants are chosen on the basis of competitive application. The Institute pays for their travel and living expenses while onsite. It is a fantastic opportunity to develop relationships with prominent scholars in the field since they serve as faculty and mentors for the students. The Board spent a good part of the afternoon determining the program and discussing speakers to invite for the 2012 gathering.

For the next 3 days it was all business at the NAASA Conference with days joyfully crammed full of presentations. Here are some of the sessions: Object Lessons: Manifold Meanings in Individual Objects; Stand By Me: Activism and Aboriginal Curatorial Practices; Globalizing Native Art; Making the Past Present and the Present Contemporary. Interesting, invigorating and mind boggling at times!

Carlie Fishgold and Joe Horse Capture are enjoying themselves. Carlie was my intern in the Thaw Collection this past summer. It was great to see her again.

I also had a chance to catch up with student alums from past Otsego Institute conferences. At least 6 past students were presenting papers at the conference. On Saturday a group of us got together for lunch:

On Saturday evening NAASA's big gala dinner event was held at the Canadian Museum of Civilization. Here are some photos from that event:

What a setting for a dinner - among totem poles! About 200 people attended the dinner. I presented the first triennial $10,000 Thaw Publication Award to Jonathan Batkin for his book The Curio Trade in New Mexico. Afterward, I had moose stew and a glass of red vine. I am always amazed of what can happen "all in a day's work."

While in Ottawa, I had a chance to walk through town and look at the beautiful architecture and public art. Here are some pictures of what I saw:

 Check out this view over Ottawa and the river from my hotel room.
 Just a few weeks ago a young bicyclist died when hit by a car. A memorial to her sprang up on the sidewalk near the accident. Beneath all the flowers is a while bicycle. Ottawa is a bicycle friendly town with bike rental stations throughout the city. 

Parliament buildings in the morning light.

Bronze sculpture of Joseph Brandt on Rideau Street

And another bronze this one of Champlain

Maman by Louise Bourgeois, 1999 in the background is the National Gallery of Canada.
NGC borrowed 9 objects from the Thaw collection a few years ago for their exhibit Art of This Land.

Sculpture of ... hmmm, forgot to get the title! Isn't it an amazing stainless steel line in the sky? It is located on the river side of the National Gallery.

And then the Byward market! On the second floor this wood and paper mâché sculpture by Victor Tolgesya titled, Mc Clintock's Dream, 1978.

And here is one of the booths outside selling --- I don't know what to call it!

Tote pole in front of Ottawa School of Art

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