IN THE SPIRIT Contemporary Native Arts, June 30 - August 12.

This summer marks the Washington State Historical Society’s 13th annual juried exhibition, IN THE SPIRIT Contemporary Native Arts. Selected works will be on view at the History Museum in Tacoma from June 30 through August 12.

The call to artists for the 2018 exhibition is open with applications due on or before March 30. Native artists are encouraged to sumbit work for consideration. Get the details and application here.

Works on view typically include textiles, sculptures, paintings, carvings, and basketry. Materials run the gamut from natural elements—stone, shell, clay, wood, minerals, and grass, for example—to products like seed beads, steel, fabric, glass, and linoleum, and even petroleum-based items such as LEDs, plastic straws, and Styrofoam.

Each spring, Native artists from many western states and Canada submit work for consideration by a jury of local artists and curators. The jury has the pleasure of seeing the latest in Native art, and the difficult challenge of winnowing down a selection of works for the exhibition. This dynamic process provides an annual opportunity for the Washington State History Museum to showcase Native artists from the broader region, and for artists to win honors and awards. 

Each year the museum adds one work from the exhibition to its collection. If you are a collector, too, you’ll be delighted to know that most of the works in the show are available for purchase.

ITS RavenFeathers“IN THE SPIRIT continues the connection between the Historical Society’s Native collections and the vibrant contemporary arts scene. The exhibition is ever-changing, reflecting the variety of works entered for jurying, the artists who choose to enter, the interests and backgrounds of the jurors, as well as changes in political and social contexts,” said MaryMikel Stump, Director of Audience Engagement at WSHS. “It is an honor to meet these artists. Some works are deeply influenced by tradition while others use that tradition as a jumping off point for a more contemporary take, and, yet, some beautifully blend traditional methods and materials and contemporary forms. Truly, the past is present in these exemplary artworks.” 

An artist awards ceremony will be held on Sunday, July 1, at 3:00 PM.

During the run of the exhibition, museum visitors can cast votes for the People’s Choice First and Second Place awards. 

ITS KardonThe People’s Choice awards will be presented at the free IN THE SPIRIT Northwest Native Festival. This indoor/outdoor celebration will be held on Saturday, August 11, in collaboration with the Tacoma Art Museum. Admission to both museums is free on festival day. In addition to a Native arts market, the festival includes dance, song, music, food, and a runway fashion show featuring Native designers. 

Both the History Museum and TAM have long celebrated Native American arts and culture, and the museums are pleased to collaborate in bringing this enriching festival to the community. 

“The tradition of opening IN THE SPIRIT on Third Thursday makes the occasion extra special,” said Lead Program Manager Molly Wilmoth. “We can best honor the artists and feature their amazing works by opening the exhibition when the museum is accessible to everyone. We hope that the community will enjoy the opportunity to meet some of the artists in person and see their works.” 

Image credits, from the 2017 IN THE SPIRIT exhibition, top to bottom: 

Lois Chichinoff Thadei, Aleut - Ketchikan Indian Corp/Sealaska Corp, Raven Feathers (detail), 2017. Glass, granite. Photo courtesy of artist.
Kathey Ervin Wyandotte, Stacked Tea Set, 2016. Western red cedar, Alaskan yellow cedar, artificial sinew, Styrofoam, wood. Photo courtesy of artist.
Lois Chichinoff Thadei, Aleut - Ketchikan Indian Corp/Sealaska Corp, Raven Feathers, 2017. Glass, granite. Photo courtesy of artist.
Celeste Kardonsky Dybeck, Jamestown S’Klallam, Kardonsky Family Tree, 2015, Pendleton wool, ultra suede, mother-of-pearl buttons. 45 x 53 inches. Photo by Duncan Price Photography.