Ramsey Library Exhibits


American Indian Art: Past & Present

Malcolm Blowers Gallery

October 1 - 30, 2000

The 7th annual Kituwah celebration comes to the campus of the University of North Carolina at Asheville for the first time this October 13-15. Kituwah 2000 celebrates the art, heritage and education of  Native Americans. The exhibit American Indian Art: Past & Present is produced by the High Country Art & Craft Guild as part of the celebration that will highlight musical performance, story-telling, dance, and lecture.

American Indian Art: Past & Present  is a celebration of the visual arts and crafts of Native Americans  from the Western North Carolina region as well as from many other areas of the United States. The arts and crafts combine the traditional work of Native tribes with more contemporary work by nationally recognized artists including Dawn Dark Mountain, Donald Vann, Ron Mitchell, John Guthrie, Gwen Coleman Lester, Harry "Bert" Yazzie, and others. A few of the artists are highlighted below.

Dawn Dark Mountain

The Oneida Nation of Wisconsin., one of the Six Nations of the Iroquois,  is one of the many tribes included in this eclectic and engaging exhibition. Representing the Oneida Nation is artist Dawn Dark Mountain. As a featured artist,  Ms. Dark Mountain's work was selected as the cover art on this year's Kituwah 2000  brochure, on the official program, and on the annual collector art poster.

As described in the press release for Kituwah, Dawn Dark Mountain  "... belongs to the Turtle Clan. The turtle, which symbolizes creation and long life, figures in all of her paintings, either prominently or hidden. Her painting style has been referred to as 'magic realism'.  Working strictly with soft brush work in transparent watercolor, Dark Mountain says of her work, 'applying this style to my subject matter results in a peculiar mystical quality.' She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Arizona and has taught art to elementary and pre-school age children. A member of the Indian Arts and Crafts Association, Dark Mountain is also a member and current President of the Wisconsin Alliance of Artists and Craftspeople. Included among her many awards and exhibitions across the United States is a 1999 Fellowship from the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts."

Her featured work Sacred Sisters reflects the high regard that women hold in the Iroquois society. For additional information on the art of Ms. Dark Mountain contact the High Country Art and Craft Guild 828 252-3880.

Gwen Coleman Lester

Artist Gwen Coleman Lester's colored pencil drawings depict scenes from Choctaw culture. The Choctaw Nation is centered in southeastern Oklahoma where Ms. Lester grew up.  Her perspective is more historical than the other exhibitors and includes Choctaw language and other historical elements woven into the design of the work. Her art is also more inter-tribal than some of the other exhibitors. She often draws scenes of tribe pow wows and mixed social activities. The active life of the dance and the game of stickball also appear frequently in her art. Ms. Lester has exhibited widely in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas.


Donald Vann

Artist Donald Vann, another artist represented in the exhibit, is a member of the Western Band of the Cherokee. He has been chosen as the featured visual artist at the Kituwah 2000 celebration. His art reflects his deep sensitivity to animals and to the Native cultures. The press release for the celebration describes Vann's work:

"The images of [this] full-blood Cherokee artist ... speak of peace, tranquility and solitude. To see his paintings is to know the soft-spoken man behind the paper and the paint. Raised on Cherokee land outside Stilwell, Oklahoma, Vann always preferred the solace of nature and the traditional teachings of his clan holy man to the confines of the classroom. He left school at an early age and began supporting himself through his one true love --- art. Today, Vann's work consistently takes top honors at juried competitions nationwide, and more than 50 of his limited edition prints are collector's items And yet, the public acceptance is what matters most to Vann. 'Through my images,' Vann responds when asked of his success, 'I hope people will be inspired to learn more about the customs and values of America's native people. If I can make people see with their heart instead of their eyes, then my art has spoken. Then I have succeeded.'"

Rainbow Bridge, Vann's work in the exhibit is both a self-portrait, a tribute to his lost canine companion and an expression of the bond between man and animal. For additional information on the work of Vann, contact the High Country Art & Craft Guild 828 252-3880.

Harry "Bert" Yazzie

Harry "Bert" Yazzi works with the three-dimensional object. As a Dine-Hopi carver, he has been recognized throughout the southwest as a talented Native carver. A biographical statement is supplied by High Country Arts & Crafts :

"Harry "Bert" Yazzie, a respectable Dine-Hopi carver, has been carving since the summer of 1985. His maternal grandmother, Laughs a Lots' Daughter, provided Harry with his Dine name, Ashkii Yazhi. Harry comes from the Deerwater Clan of the Dine, born for the Badger Clan of the Hopi. As a young boy, he was raised by his maternal grandfather, Thin Whiskers.
     In 1965, at the age of eleven, Harry was sent to Orem, Utah where he was raised by his foster parents, Frank and Lenora Long. It was then that he was introduced to welding and pipe fitting by his foster father. Harry returned to the reservation in 1973 to complete his high school education. Enrolling in a trade school to enhance his knowledge, he received his Journeyman Pipe Fitter Apprenticeship.
     When asked how he became a carver, Harry remembers that after the passing on of his father (Dine Yazhi), he met and got to know his Hopi relatives. His clan brothers would take him to the ceremonial dances, sing and compete with other village groups in the kivas. This is where he grew both spiritually and mentally. His clan brothers advised him to grasp the knowledge of how to carve katsina dolls. It took Harry six years to carve his first piece, the Chipmunk. From then on Harry strived to compose his carving with more human likeness and impressive detail.
     He admires and has an immense passion for bears, and carves them for a hobby. With his bear carvings, he placed third in the sculpture division at the Totah Festival in Farmington, New Mexico.
     Harry is a recognized carver with particular pieces in various shops in Colorado, Utah, and Arizona. Although he is a well-known carver he can not take all the credit for his accomplishments. Without the teachings of his Hopi relatives; Adrian, Norman, Wayne, Coolidge, and Edwin, he would not have developed his artistic talent.
     In 1989, Harry went to work as an automotive instructor at Tuba City High School. Needing an outlet for his stress, carving became his outlet. He loved carving as an art form, not so much for the money. After resigning from the High School in 1991, his love of the art soon became his profession.
     In 1996, Harry ventured off into another artistic medium. Attending a variety of art shows and observing various jewelry types, he decided to create distinctive jewelry styles. He used both Dine stamps with Hopi overlay techniques, to incorporate wildlife images and traditional designs, giving his jewelry a unique and distinct style.  
     Although he is a self-taught silver and goldsmith he has had a lot of advice from family and friends. Dan Yazie (his brother), Rosabelle Shepherd, Carl Yazie, Alex Jensen, and Mike Alcott, to whom [he] is very thankful."

To order tickets for the Kituwah celebration, October 13-15, contact the Kituwah office, P.O. Box 2854, Asheville, NC or phone 828 252-3880.

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