Sharing the Creative Spirit: Indigenous Community Art Projects

Christi Belcourt and Sherry Farrell Racette, Métis, “Walking With Our Sisters”
Dylan Miner, Métis, “Anishnaabensag Biimskowebshkigewag” (Native Kids Ride Bikes)
Douglas Miles, San Carlos Apache/Akimel O’odham, Apache Skateboards
Andrea R. Hanley, Navajo, Membership and Program Manager, Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (moderator)

IARC Speaker Series, Museum of Contemporary Native Arts

Wednesday, March 26, 2014, 12:00 pm, Free

“Sharing the Creative Spirit: Indigenous Community Art Projects” with Douglas Miles, Dylan Miner, Sherry Farrell Racette, and Christi Belcourt. This panel discussion was moderated by Museum of Contemporary Native Art Membership and Program Manager, Andrea R. Hanley.

The importance of working with local and Native communities is becoming an increasingly common theme with contemporary artists. This panel discussion will examine three such community-based projects and their impact on both a local and national scale.

Links to Projects


Christi BelcourtChristi BelcourtPhotograph courtesy of Christi BelcourtChristi BelcourtPhotograph courtesy of Christi BelcourtChristi Belcourt is a leading contemporary artist in Canada whose work relays a variety of meanings including concerns for the environment, biodiversity, spirituality, and indigenous rights. Currently she is leading the “Walking With Our Sisters” project, a massive endeavor that combines art, traditional indigenous knowledge, indigenous ceremony, and spirituality in a community-driven project that involves 1,372 artists, 1,726 pairs of moccasin tops, and an exhibit tour that will travel North America to thirty-two locations until 2020. Without government funding, the project is being done by volunteers and involves thousands of people in community organizing.

Belcourt’s work is included in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; the Gabriel Dumont Institute, Saskatoon; The Nature Conservancy of Canada; Centre for Traditional Knowledge, Ottawa; Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa; the Indian and Inuit Art Collection, Hull; Thunder Bay Art Gallery; and the Canadian Museum of Civilization, Ottawa/Hull. Most recently, Belcourt’s work commemorating residential school survivors and communities was rendered in stained glass and installed at Centre Block on Parliament Hill in Ottowa, marking only the second time in recent history that Parliament has commissioned a stained glass work for its buildings.

Sherry Farrell RacetteSherry Farrell Racette2009–2010 Resident Scholar.Sherry Farrell Racette2009–2010 Resident Scholar.Dr. Sherry Farrell Racette is a scholar, writer, artist, curator, and educator. She is an interdisciplinary scholar with a background in art history, education, history, anthropology, and Native studies. Farrell Racette, who is of First Nations and Irish descent and a member of Timiskaming First Nation in Quebec, has an active arts practice, which includes painting and multimedia works. She has also illustrated a number of children’s books. In her research, Farrell Racette focuses on Métis and First Nations women’s history, in particular, reconstructing indigenous art histories that recontextualize museum collections and reclaim women’s voices.

Farrell Racette has had a rich and varied career in scholarship and art. Her prolific publishing history includes Clearing a Path: New Ways of Seeing Traditional Indigenous Art (with Carmen Robertson, 2009) and Sewing for a Living: The Commodification of Métis Women’s Artistic Production in Contact Zones: Aboriginal and Settler Women in Canada’s Colonial Past (2005). In 2009–10, Farrell Racette was the Anne Ray Fellow at SAR, where she worked on a project titled “Material Culture as Encoded Objects and Memory: Painted Hide Coats” as well as the book manuscript for Métis art and identity, Sewing Ourselves Together.

Douglas Miles
Douglas Miles
Dylan MinerDylan MinerPhotograph courtesy of Dylan Miner
Dylan Miner

Douglas Miles is an Akimel O’odham /Apache painter, printmaker, photographer, designer, curator, and writer living on the San Carlos Apache reservation in eastern Arizona. He is the founder of Apache Skateboards, a multi-media, skate-based conglomerate. His recent show, "What Tribe," is a group exhibition that addresses stereotypes in America. Miles' work has been exhibited in numerous locations, including the Institute of American Indian Arts Museum, Santa Fe; Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, Santa Cruz, CA, Legends Santa Fe; Pravus Gallery, Santa Fe; and Self Help Graphics, Los Angeles.

Dylan Miner is a Métis artist, historian, and activist. He is an associate professor at Michigan State University, where he coordinates a new indigenous contemporary art initiative. He holds a PhD from the University of New Mexico and has published more than fifty journal articles, book chapters, critical essays, and encyclopedia entries. His book, Creating Aztlán: Chicano Art, Indigenous Sovereignty and Lowriding across Turtle Island, will be published this year by the University of Arizona Press. In 2010, Miner was awarded an Artist Leadership Fellowship from the National Museum of the American Indian (Smithsonian Institution). Since 2010, he has been featured in thirteen solo exhibitions and been artist-in-residence at institutions such as the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, École supérieure des Beaux-arts in Nantes, and Santa Fe Art Institute. His work has been the subject of articles in publications including ARTnews, Indian Country Today, First American Art Magazine, The Globe and Mail, The Guardian, and the Chicago Sun-Times, among others. Miner is descended from the Miner-Brissette-L’Hirondelle-Kennedy families with ancestral ties to indigenous communities in the Great Lakes, prairies, and subarctic regions.

Andrea HanleyAndrea HanleyPhotograph courtesy of Andrea HanleyAndrea R. Hanley has been an arts advocate for more than 20 years. She is currently the Membership and Program Manager for the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her career has been guided and dedicated to the work of contemporary American Indian artists and the American Indian fine art field. After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Studio Art from Arizona State University, Hanley has had an impressive career working as a curator, writer, volunteer, lecturer and fundraiser. She spent more than nine years at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., serving both as Special Assistant to the Director and Exhibition Developer/Project manager. Upon returning to Arizona, Andrea worked as fine arts coordinator/curator for the city of Tempe, executive director for ATATL, Inc., an organization dedicated to promoting Native American art, and Artrain, USA, a national arts organization, as its sponsorship and major gifts officer. Most recently, she was the founding manager of the Berlin Gallery at the Heard Museum. She has over two decades of professional experience working in the field of exhibition development and arts management, primarily focusing on American Indian art. Ms. Hanley is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation.

Sponsored by School for Advanced Research and Museum of Contemporary Native Arts

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