Artists from the Native American community displayed their works at The Muckenthaler Cultural Center to convey the importance of environmental protection and conservation for the Protecting Mother Earth exhibition on March 9.
Rowan Harrison, an artist and curator, has been a part of the center’s program for 10 years. Harrison, who is half Navajo and half Pueblo of Isleta, said it was time to have another art show that was not only good, but proper after 15 years of not having a Native American exhibit at the center.
He has been incredibly involved with the Native American art community, and even reached out to those who represented diversity in Native American culture.
Matthew Leslie, the chief curator, spoke about the theme of the exhibit, and how they collaborated to make Harrison’s vision become a reality.
Afterwards, Adelia Sandoval of the Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation, walked up to the microphone with her clapper stick and sage to bless the center.
“Bless them for all the work that they do, because I know that they work hard to organize these gatherings and these events. I ask you to bless all the artists who participated in this event today, beautiful creation. These artists cling in their creative nature so that they can express beauty,” Sandoval said.
Sandoval’s vocals boomed throughout the center as she sang songs in her native language.
“Having a balance of different people representing their own indigenous cultures is pretty important in having a Native American art show,” Harrison said.
Harrison discussed on societal issues including environmentalism and climate change.
The gallery featured works by Corey Stein, Corina Roberts, Maree Cheatham, Gail Werner, Terry Glad Flores, C. M. Scott, Valena Dismukes, Rowan Harrison, Nadia Reed, Peggy Fontenot, Laurie Steelink, Nadia LittleWarrior, Zoë Marieh Urness, Randy Kemp, Sheridan Macknight and Eric Tippeconnic, a CSUF history professor.
A variety of displays, from mixed media, photography, video, beadwork, cut wood, oil and acrylic paintings portrayed Native American culture and life, nature, protests and distress over the current state of the environment.
Nadia Reed, an artist and member of the Chinook Indian tribe, displayed traditional Pacific Northwestern Native American art influenced by abstract expressionism.
Reed’s rich-toned acrylic paintings titled “Ghost,” “Sing” and “Great Spirits” represent how the federal government failed to recognize the Chinook tribe and the restoration of the planet through native ancestors.
Reed emphasized that it is imperative to take care of Earth and that Native Americans are being called upon by politicians and organizations that deal with sustainability to help restore the damage that has been done to the environment.
As a chief curator, Leslie looks for topics that are cultural, unusual or interesting. He mentioned it’s no accident that the center decided to showcase this environmentally-themed exhibit at this point in the year. Protecting Mother Earth exhibit will run until April 28, encompassing Earth Day on April 22.
“As (Harrison) said, it was close to his heart, and I thought it should be close to everybody’s heart,” Leslie said.
The center will host a gallery tour of Protecting Mother Earth on March 28 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.