Exhibits feature tiny art, contemporary Native American life

Exhibits feature tiny art, contemporary Native American life

Southern Oregon University is hosting an exhibit that celebrates small-scale art, plus a show of photographs capturing contemporary Native American life from Hawaii to Maine.

An opening reception for both exhibits is from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6, during Ashland's First Friday Art Walk. Refreshments will be served.

The annual Tiny Art Show with work by students, faculty and community members is in the Marion Ady Building near the Schneider Museum of Art at SOU's Ashland campus.

Photographer Matika Wilbur, a member of the Swinomish and Tulalip Tribes in the Pacific Northwest, is displaying her Native American portraits in the Art Building next to the museum. The Project 562 Campus Collection exhibit includes photographs from her ongoing project to photograph members of more than 500 federally recognized tribes in America.

The exhibits can be viewed from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday until Oct. 25.

In 2012, Wilbur sold everything in her Seattle apartment, packed a few essentials into her car and began her epic journey to photograph tribal members. When she first came up with the idea for her project, there were 562 federally recognized tribes, but the number has since grown to 567.

So far, she has logged more than 250,000 miles and photographed members of over 400 tribes.

"I've been connected to the national Indian community since childhood, but this has been through powwows, conferences and other gatherings, usually in big cities," Wilbur said. "To meet people in their own ancestral homelands, to arrive and walk and sleep and join them where they have been for millennia is so deeply affecting and important in getting right what we are doing."

Wilbur said sometimes she visits isolated reservations, while at other times her journey takes her to meet some of the 70 percent of Native Americans living in urban settings.

Project 562 is her answer to historical inaccuracies, stereotyped representations and silenced Native American voices, she said.

People in her photographs include sisters Darkfeather and Bibianna Ancheta, shown holding hands with Eckos Chartraw-Ancheta and wearing traditional Tulalip Tribe clothing.

Other images show people fighting projects they believe will despoil their ancestral land, including Chief Bill James of the Lummi Nation, who opposes the construction of a coal export terminal at a coastal sacred site in Washington state.

Many of the people shown in Wilbur's photographs are striving to preserve their cultures and pass on traditions to younger generations.

Dr. Mary Evelyn Belgarde, a retired professor of Native American education, helped establish charter schools focused on indigenous education. She has studied the history of boarding schools, in which Native American children were separated from their families and sent away to school.

Kumu Olelo Kaeo Izon teaches in a Hawaiian language immersion program in Honolulu, while Dr. Adriene Keene of the Cherokee Nation works to increase college access for tribal youth, including those from Hawaii, Alaska and the lower 48 states.

Wilbur's photography project also recognizes the cross-cultural identity of many of her subjects. Community wellness worker Juanita Toledo, who is half Native American and half African-American, grew up on a reservation and still lives on tribal lands in New Mexico. She often serves as a model for Native American designers in shows and photo shoots throughout the southwest.

For more information on Wilbur's work, visit www.project562.com.

Also on Friday night, the Schneider Museum of Art will extend its hours until 8 p.m. Parking will be free beginning at 4 p.m. at the museum's parking locations.

Art fans who want to travel between the exhibits on the SOU campus and galleries in downtown Ashland can ride on the Allaboard Trolley for free between 5 and 10 p.m.

The trolley will make stops at the museum's parking lot at 555 Indiana St., the downtown Plaza and the corner of Fourth and A streets.

Earlier in the day, filmmaker and SOU alumna Bobbi Jo Hart will give a free lecture from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in the Meese Auditorium in the Art Building. Hart's documentary films have focused on women's professional tennis, a Juilliard-trained concert pianist and the Canadian women's soccer team during the 2015 World Cup.


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