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15th Annual  IN THE SPIRIT Contemporary Native Arts Virtual Exhibition 2

IN THE SPIRIT Contemporary Native Arts 2021

16th Annual Exhibition
  • Dates:
    Jul 15 - Aug 29 2021
  • Ages:
    All ages
  • Where:
    Washington State History Museum, fifth floor
  • Tickets:

    Included with museum admission, free for WSHS members

  • Accessibility:

    Mobility-accessible. Exterior ramps provide building access, elevators access all floors in the building, and wheelchairs are available at admissions.

IN THE SPIRIT is an annual summer celebration of diverse Native American arts and culture, including a juried exhibition at the Washington State History Museum, an Artist Awards event, artist talks, and an indoor/outdoor community festival with an arts market.

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The Exhibition – July 15 through August 29

Explore the art exhibition in person at the Washington State History Museum through August 29. This year, the jurors selected 36 works by 21 artists, and there’s nothing like seeing these works of art in person! Each work is accompanied by the artist’s statement. Step into the gallery and explore art that relates to a wide variety of themes, presented in a range of mediums including textiles, paintings, carvings, beadwork, mixed media, basketry, and digital works. Vote in the gallery for your favorites; the People’s Choice Awards will be announced at the end of the exhibition.

The Festival – August 7

The IN THE SPIRIT Arts Market and Northwest Native Festival is hosted collaboratively by the Washington State History Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, and Museum of Glass. Admission to all three museums is free for the day! Enjoy shopping among and talking with artist vendors, listening to Native music, watching dynamic cultural dance, making art, exploring exhibitions and more. All three museums are FREE for the day!

Arts Market and Northwest Native Festival details

IN THE SPIRIT Artist Awards

Each year the jurors have the challenge of selecting artworks in the exhibition to receive four awards. Uniquely, three of the awards this year are for wearable art. The 2021 jurors presented the awards virtually via Facebook Live; click the button below to watch that recorded program.

Artist Awards presentation
  • Best in Show
    Ursala Hudson, Tlingit
    We Are the Ocean
    2021
    Wool, silk, cedar bark, steel cones, leather, mother of pearl.

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  • Spirit of the Northwest
    Heather Johnson-Jock, Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe
    Painted Desert Dance Shawl and Skirt
    2021
    Painted Desert Dance Woven Top
    2021
    Handspun wool yarn and commercial wool blend yarn.

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  • Honoring Innovation
    Kathryn Miller, Spokane
    Foundation
    2018
    Repurposed zippers, glass beads, shells, acrylic gel
    medium, polyester fabric lining on a form: wire, paper & fabric mache, dry wall compound, acrylic paint.

    IN THE SPIRIT Contemporary Native Arts 2021 3
  • Honoring the Ancestors
    Gilmore Scott, Diné (Navajo) Nation
    Female Storm Dazzler
    2021
    Acrylic on wood panel.

    IN THE SPIRIT Contemporary Native Arts 2021 2
  • Purchase Prize
    Lily Hope, Tlingit
    Black Lives Matter ALLIES Armband
    2020
    Chilkat weaving techniques on hands-on merino and cedar bark warp, hand-dyed yarns, 7 × 15½ inches.

    IN THE SPIRIT Contemporary Native Arts 2021 17
  • People’s Choice Award
    Sonia Barry, Aleut
    Assimilation
    2021
    Acrylic on canvas, 20×16×24 inches.

    IN THE SPIRIT Contemporary Native Arts 2021 20
  • People’s Choice Award
    Shaun Peterson, Puyallup
    Holding the Door Open
    2021
    Mixed media on canvas, 36×36 inches.

    IN THE SPIRIT Contemporary Native Arts 2021 21

Award Recipients Artist Statements

Ursala Hudson (Tlingit)

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Ursala Hudson (Tlingit), We Are the Ocean, 2021. Wool, silk, cedar bark, steel cones, leather, mother of pearl, 62×62 inches.

Artist Statement

We Are the Ocean is a testament to who the modern Indigenous Woman is in this world, made up of everything that came before. We are a culmination of specific climates, cultures, moments, commitments, and whims from millennia of memories passed onto us by ancestors. When we let a bit of ourselves seep out onto paper, canvas, panel, fiber — the vastness of our infinite selves finds a tangible form.

We Are the Ocean was crafted according to the techniques, customs, design principles, and spiritual practices of the Northwest Coast’s Chilkat and Ravenstail textiles. However, materials and patterns of the Southwestern peoples, colonial and modern times [are incorporated] into the ceremonial ensemble. The design revolves around and accentuates the female figure, as a relatively new convention in Alaska Native art, with each garment created to evoke feminine sovereignty and uplift the modern Indigenous Woman.

Heather Johnson-Jock (Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe)

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Heather Johnson-Jock (Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe), Painted Desert Dance Woven Top, 2021. Hand-spun wool yarn and commercial wool blend yarn, 32×20×½ inches. Painted Desert Dance Shawl and Skirt, 2021. Hand-spun wool yarn and commercial wool blend yarn, 100×32×½ and 27×21×½ inches.

Artist Statement

I am Heather Johnson-Jock, a master weaver of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe. While my journey has led me to live in the Southwest at this time, I carry on the Salish wool weaving traditions of hand spinning and weaving learned from the late Bill James and his mother, the late Fran James, of Lummi.

As I was taught by all my elders to appreciate nature, I’ve decided that rather than be homesick for the Salish Sea, I let myself be inspired by the colors and patterns of the Painted Desert of the Southwest. I created this Painted Desert Dance regalia collection to celebrate that deep appreciation and respect I hold in my heart for nature.

I wove the Painted Desert Dance regalia in the Salish twill design using colors found in the Southwest. I chose to weave diamond patterns and horizontal stripes of color to reflect the beautiful landscape.

With this piece and every piece I weave, there is “a stitch for Fran.”

Kathryn Miller (Spokane)

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Kathryn Miller (Spokane), Foundation, 2018. Repurposed zippers, glass beads, shells, acrylic gel medium, polyester fabric lining on a form wire, paper and fabric mache, dry-wall compound, acrylic paint, 19×12×16 inches.

Artist Statement

I am a multi-media fiber artist creating sculptural assemblages, garments, and accessories. My art is concept-driven. Ecology is a recurrent theme because I believe there are correlations between how we treat animals, environments, and possessions, and how we treat one another. I work with repurposed and natural materials.

Foundation bodice was shaped with reclaimed zippers, a metaphor for the duality of strength and vulnerability of Culture. The model of this garment is literally placed within an ecosystem reminding us that we are all connected and dependent upon each other for survival.

The front of the bodice depicts an ecosystem common in the Spokane Indian territories. There are no humans in this view. This system would operate well without humans.

The story unfolds to the left and around the back where Grandmother watches the children. Foundation is a tribute to our Grandmothers who serve as guardians and teachers.

Gilmore Scott (Diné (Navajo) Nation)

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Gilmore Scott (Diné (Navajo) Nation), Female Storm Dazzler, 2021. Acrylic on wood, 8×8 inches.

Artist Statement

“Beauty is simple design and the harmony of color.”

My use of colors is strong and bold. Inspiration for my subjects are interpretations of how I view my culture, Diné (Navajo) heritage. Our high desert southwest landscapes, day and night skies, stories taught of our tradition. I like to incorporate geometric designs similar to that of our Diné rug weavers. These are motivating factors to my artistic imagination today.

Lily Hope (Tlingit)

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Lily Hope (Tlingit), Black Lives Matter ALLIES Armband, 2020. Chilkat weaving techniques on hands-on merino and cedar bark warp, hand-dyed yarns, 7 × 15½ inches.

Artist Statement

Weavers of Chilkat dancing blankets on the Northwest Coast have recorded history for hundreds of years. Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian peoples all use them in ceremony still today.

The Black Lives Matter ALLIES Armband is intended to be worn by allies any time they leave the house, easily identifying themselves in the periphery of any BIPoc person under duress. If mass-produced on bandanas, every ally could wear one to signify to aggressors that there are allies everywhere.

You’ll note that the Powerfist is woven with only four fingers. This is because we don’t need to weave our five-fingered human hand into Chilkat works. It is a gift enough to weave.

People's Choice Award #1

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Sonia Barry (Aleut), Assimilation, 2021. Acrylic on canvas, 20×16×24 inches.

Artist Statement

Assimilation is inspired by self-exploration and self-acceptance on what it means to be an Urban Indian. I used Fauvism-inspired style with vivid expressionistic and nonnaturalistic use of color as it is a metaphor of assimilation. My native identity, symbolically red, has been whitewashed, creating varying shades of pink.

People's Choice Award #2

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Shaun Peterson (Puyallup), Holding the Door Open, 2021. Mixed media on canvas, 36×36 inches.

Artist Statement

During the initial lock down of 2020 I had been working on sculptures with a great deal of pressure. It was one of the benefits of working solo largely. However, on completion of one of the major pieces moving onto the next without having ability to call on additional help while moving a log the long hours and repetition tore my shoulder and I was unable to carve for 6 months. In that time I reflected on the paintings of my great grandmother Faye Bosshart. I hadn’t painted in years and my arm was in a sling but I was determined to see if I could paint using my iPad. I explored several ideas and studied my grandmother’s paintings for inspiration to create more personal images and challenge myself. The result is reconnecting with something I had wanted for years. It opened a door I would have otherwise closed if not faced with the
circumstances.

Exhibition Jurors

Our heartfelt thanks to the 2021 exhibition jury for their time and work in reviewing artist’s submissions, selecting works for the exhibition, and presenting the Artist Awards. You can read about Todd Clark (Wailaki), Laura VerMeulen (Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska), and Philip H. Red Eagle (Dakota and Puget Sound Salish) below.

2021 Exhibition Juror Statements and Bios

Todd Clark, Wailaki

Todd Clark is Program Manager for the Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies at the University of Washington. In this role, he manages a series of programs funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to help recruit, support, and retain Native and Indigenous students. He is also the founder and curator of IMNDN, a non-profit organization dedicated to advocating for contemporary Native art and artists. As an enrolled member of the Wailaki tribe, he brings a unique curatorial voice to his exhibitions by understanding what it means to be Native in the 21st century.

Collections Selections 1

Prior to starting IMNDN, Todd worked in the museum field for over 20 years in the collections, exhibitions and curatorial departments at the Portland Art Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Petersen Automotive Museum and the Autry Museum of the American West. Todd has served as a panelist for several organizations including the Native Arts & Cultures Foundation Panel for Visual Arts in Portland, Oregon, and has been a judge/panelist for the American Indian Arts Marketplace for the Autry Museum in Los Angeles on multiple occasions. Todd is also a member of the curatorial roster of the Washington State Arts Commission, ARTSWA, program.

Laura VerMeulen, Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska

IN THE SPIRIT Contemporary Native Arts 2021

Laura VerMeulen is the Managing Director of the Longhouse Education and Cultural Center at The Evergreen State College. An enrolled citizen of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, Laura served as the Assistant Director of the Longhouse from October 1999 to February 2021. She has worked to support its mission: to promote Indigenous arts and cultures through education, cultural preservation, creative expression, and economic development by supporting artist workshops, residencies, cultural programming, the business of art workshops, art markets, and exhibitions.

Philip H. Red Eagle, Dakota and Puget Sound Salish

Philip Red Eagle is a born and raised Northwest writer, artist, metalsmith and carver. He is the author of Red Earth: A Vietnam Warrior’s Journey, styled in mythical realism and now in its second edition (saltpublishing.com). He is also the originator and a co-founder of The Raven Chronicles: A Journal of Art, Literature & The Spoken Word, established 28 years ago and currently based in Seattle. An “occasional poet,” these days Philip spends most of his time working with Tribal Journeys, a cultural movement using the canoe as a vessel for cultural renewal.

Philip Red Eagle began shooting film with a small 35 mm Canon camera while in Vietnam in 1971. When back in the fleet in 1972-1973 he upgraded to a Canon F-1, 35 mm SLR (top of the line). Upon returning to the states and while stationed in San Diego, California, Philip took photography classes at San Diego City College. He began taking wedding photos for his buddies. He came to the University of Washington in 1976 and continued his education and his camera expertise moving to professional levels in the 1980s, shooting headshots, modeling portfolios, and advertisement photography, then moving into gallery-level photography in the early 1990s. He has currently started digitizing his old slides and black and white work and is now shooting with a Sony digital camera.

The Advisory Committee

Our gratitude to the Advisory Committee for their guidance and collaboration throughout the year in support of the exhibition and the festival.

  • PḰȺELWEȽTEN/Charles W Bloomfield (Pyramid Lake Paiute, W̱SÁNEĆ, Lummi) – Longtime IN THE SPIRIT artist and award winner, past exhibition juror.
  • Todd Clark (Wailaki) – University of Washington Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies, founder and curator of IMNDN.
  • Linley B. Logan (Seneca) – Evergreen Longhouse Education & Cultural Center, longtime IN THE SPIRIT artist and advisor.
  • Tisa Matheson (Nimiipuu) – American Indian Collection Curator at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture.
  • Alexander McCarty (Makah) – Evergreen State College instructor, Evergreen Longhouse Education & Cultural Center, and artist.
  • Dr. Danica Miller (Puyallup) – Associate Professor of American Indian Studies, University of Washington Tacoma.
  • Laura VerMeulen (Tlingit, Haida) – Managing Director of Evergreen Longhouse Education & Cultural Center, and original IN THE SPIRIT development team.

Questions?

Contact Molly Wilmoth, lead program manager at Washington State Historical Society, at 253-798-5926 or molly.wilmoth@wshs.wa.gov.

Image credits, top of page, left to right: Ursala Hudson (Tlingit), We Are the Ocean, 2021. Wool, silk, cedar bark, steel cones, leather, mother of pearl. Carol Emarthle Douglas (Northern Arapaho/Seminole), Healing Hands, 2021. Traditional coiled technique, figure-8 stitch. Hemp core, one rod coiling, waxed linen thread, red and natural colors. Sonia Barry (Aleut), Assimilation, 2021. Acrylic on canvas.