Photo caption: Artwork submitted for the ONM's latest exhibit, "Creativity 2020: Art from the Community." The exhibit debuted Dec. 18, 2020, and will run through Feb. 12, 2021. CODY HAMMER/Osage News
The Osage Nation Museum’s first exhibition since its closure earlier this year, due to COVID-19, is now open to view online and in-person with safety precautions in place. Creativity 2020: Art from the Community includes 33 works by 34 community members, ranging from burgeoning to established artists, focused on sharing work created in response to the pandemic. In the spirit of community building, all works submitted were accepted and are on view. The show features a diverse range of media including paintings, drawings, sculpture, photography, printmaking as well as textiles including items of dance clothing and facemasks.
During a virtual opening, held on Friday, Dec. 18, Osage Nation Museum Director Marla Redcorn-Miller facilitated a viewing of each work, as well as art talks and presentations by participating artists Dante Biss-Grayson, Anita Fields, Wendy Ponca and Moira RedCorn.
“We’re so fortunate to have the people that we have in our community - artists, leaders and professionals in all walks of life - we have people who work in the therapeutic areas and tonight we’re going to be listening to how art has impacted them through this process,” said Redcorn-Miller while inviting attendees to consider the healing and therapeutic properties of art-making.
Wendy Ponca, a fiber artist with a Master's degree in Art therapy, received an award for being a legend and a superhero by the Osage Historical Society last March. This honor prompted her piece, “Super Hero Cape for Osage County (2020)” -- a silkscreen printed canvas with taffeta lining -- which symbolizes art as therapy and positivity.
“I really feel that art therapy works better for Native Americans,” said Ponca. “That’s been my impetus to even study art therapy.”
Throughout the pandemic, Ponca has been making masks out of silkscreen materials and giving them away to anyone in need. This act of giving has had a positive influence on her art-making practice.
“The fact that I’m giving it away because it’s actually going to save someone’s life is a good thing,” reflects Ponca. “It’s all the good things.”
At the beginning of the pandemic, clay and fabric artist Anita Fields struggled with finding ways to continue making, but quickly adapted, and ultimately has found comfort in doing the work and connecting with others.
“I knew that getting back to the process of creating would help with the feelings of uncertainty,” said Fields. “There is healing in the creating and making and thinking about the time we live in right now.”
Fields’ piece “Move Forward #1 (2020),” made with fabric, ink, historic document facsimiles, embroidery thread and metal sequins, represents the survival of Osage people - both past and present: “Osages are familiar with hardship. We are still here. We know what it means to survive.”
Throughout the pandemic, multidisciplinary artist Dante Biss-Grayson has felt inspired to diversify and explore new mediums ranging from virtual reality to fashion design. “Caught in the Storm (2020)” stays true to his foundational practice of oil on canvas. Biss-Grayson’s second piece in the exhibit, “400 Ribbon Skirt (2020)”is a piece from his Sky Eagle Collection, a fashion line ignited from his advocacy efforts and social practice.
“I designed 400 ribbon skirts for the Sky Eagle Collection who donated all of them to battered women’s shelters on reservations in the USA and Canada,” reads Biss-Grayson’s artist statement. “In support of Missing Murdered Indigenous Women’s (MMIW) Advocacy groups, the Sky-Eagle Collection has donated to many advocacy groups with the goal to provide action to the MMIW epidemic.”
Artist and psychiatrist Moira RedCorn’s piece “Ritual of a Peaceful Day (2020),” oil on paper, represents her personal journey through the pandemic. While much of 2020 has been chaotic, Redcorn found needed structure and connection through ritual which included saying the Wi-gi-e drawn on her piece, in both Osage and English, every morning at sunrise.
In response to a question from Redcorn-Miller about the value of art and advice to young artists, RedCorn responded, ”The flip side to the vulnerability coin is bravery. And it’s a brave act to put a piece out there. It was beautiful to see so many young people with their stuff in this collection. How wonderful was that, that these kids were brave enough to put their work out there? To me, that speaks volumes. I love that.”
RedCorn’s observation speaks to the impressive age range of the participating artists, ranging from four-years-old to elder community members. All participating artists’ objects are featured at osagenationcreativity.com with an artist statement that provides scaffolding around each artist’s process and reflections upon this period. A full list of Creativity 2020 Artists is below:
Creativity 2020: Artists
Vincent "Joe Don" Brave
Preston S. Brave
Jessica Rosemary Harjo
Cortney Jean Metzger
Erica Pretty Eagle Moore
Shannon Shaw Duty
Arabel Standing Bear
Alexandra Ponca Stock
Mary Jo Trumbly
Whether virtual or in-person, ONM invites everyone to share, exchange and celebrate the enduring strength of the Osage culture and community.
“This great community of people coming together and sharing as a community has been really hopeful for the museum in opening up,” said Redcorn-Miller. “I hope all of you can take time to look at the online virtual exhibit and come into the museum, if it’s possible.”
Creativity 2020: Art from the Community will remain on view through Feb. 12, 2021. Details about in-person viewing can be found at www.osagenationcreativity.com or by calling (918) 287-5441. ONM is located at 819 Grandview Ave. Pawhuska, OK 74056.