I was feeling down and creatively drained last week; I had to kick myself out of it by engaging with other creatives. This past weekend, I was excited to check-out the Northern Plains Indian Art Market up in Sioux Falls. When I am surrounded by artwork, it helps recenter my creative mind.
Walking into the art market, I had no idea about the historical importance of this event. Reading about its initial beginnings in 1988, the changes in its hosts to Sinte Gleska University, and the threat of it not running, had me in awe. I admired that, through their challenges, the community assisted in helping it run today. When it comes to the arts, it’s easy for programs to fall by the wayside. For a university to help sustain an art project that brings people together, shows the importance of creative programming.
Meandering through the exhibition, I came across two artists whose work struck me. Ivan Knife, uses the traditional Native technique of porcupine quillwork. I was immediately fascinated by the vibrant colors of his jewelry. Little did I know that the process he uses is tedious and requires immense amounts of patience. To see where he begins, with tubs of colored quills and then see the finished product was beautiful. With each piece that he makes, he is sharing a part of his history and his traditions.
This exhibition helped get me back on my creative feet. To view a variety of artwork from the Native population and get a glimpse into their history was a learning experience. Our society needs to realize that the voices of Natives need to be heard. The protests happening at the Dakota Access Pipeline and witnessing their resilience in this matter, shows us that we can no longer dismiss the voices of those we thought no longer existed.
Next up was Jennifer White, a contemporary painter and gallery owner in the Sioux Falls area. Post Pilgrim Gallery is her new space showcasing Native art. White creates dialogue about the necessity for this work. White’s paintings tell a story of her Native culture through symbolism, color, and composition. Not only did her work resonate with me, but her energy reminded me of my creative friend Jen. They each share a similar passion for fine art, telling stories, and letting their voices be heard. I hope you enjoy J. White’s artwork as much as I enjoyed
chatting with her.