Turning Indigenous Art on its Head

The discussion about ethics and indigenous art at Chicago’s Newberry Library took a swift turn when Jolene Rickard (Tuscarora) presented images from Skeena Reece’s performance art. Reece (Tsimshian, Gitksan, Cree and Metis) describes herself as a “multi-disciplinary artist based on Vancouver Island and performance work may include, music, spoken word and videography,” on her website, http://www.skeenareece.com/

The most chilling image is Reece modeling a women’s dance shawl.

Dance shawls, particularly fancy dance shawls, are stitched with images—flowers, geometric patterns, button, shells and more—that resonate with tribal art. My mother sewed the Osage ribbon work for all our dance shawls—mine and my sisters’ and my daughters,’ with traditional patterns.

Reece’s shawl—actually a button blanket–is festooned with an image of a grenade.

Secwepemc artist and designer Tania Willard uploaded the image on her blog, Red Willow, and notes that Reece’s regalia situate the artist in a “history of indigenous struggle for self-determination” where “she takes control and her defiant gaze dares the audience to become part of her subversion and laugh out loud at oppression.”

In her talk about art and ethics, Rickard said that indigenous people have long been silenced. Skeena Reece refuses to be silenced.

[Photo from http://redwillow.wordpress.com/%5D


About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
This entry was posted in authenticity, framing and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Turning Indigenous Art on its Head

  1. conceptualizingtuscarora says:

    Nice post!
    You may be interested in reading my blog



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s