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Sunday, November 20, 2016

Invitational Ex hibition II

Tell Me A Story:  Women In Art
An Invitational exhibition at the La Quinta Museum that will open January 1 and run through April 1017.

The invitational exhibition Tell Me A Story:  Women In Art , in which I am participating, requires a 300 word statement about the artist or the art work. It can be fact or fantasy.... that is an open door of possibilities. My mind started to spin in many directions when I learned I needed to write a statement, but settled on the continuing growth of my series of Native American Basket Weavers.  After all, I am telling their story through paintings. It is a significant part of my story and certainly it is theirs, but how to present this in word? 

I repeat over and over, time after time, in many different situations, "I am a visual artist, not a verbal artist."  This part of the project seemed a daunting challenge.  

While hiking with an author friend of mine I brought this up and started asking questions; we discussed and bounced ideas back and forth. Shirley encourage me to address why I paint portraits of basket weavers, the motivation behind the work. We dissected my years of involvement with weaving, painting, Native American culture and how it all worked together.  

It was time to tackle this statement.  After a write, re-write, edit, another write, critique from Shirley, another re-write or two, counting the number of words, edit, get it....long process...sometimes a frustrating process....I decided it was complete.

Finally, finally I was satisfied with the statement.  Here it is:

Let me Tell You A Story

This is a story of the responsibility to tell a story.  I was tapped on the shoulder and inspired by a mother who claimed a previous life as a tribal member, tapped on the shoulder when, as a basket weaver myself, I learned about Native weavers, tapped on the shoulder by the invisible hand of the tribal weavers, given the responsibility to tell the story.  The story that took place across the land, the story of an art form passed from mother to daughter, of cultural history, artistic vision and innovation;  the story of women working with natural fibers producing utilitarian containers.  The story of women who honed their basket making skills from childhood, developing a close relationship with their natural environment, creating vessels designed to carry burdens.  But the story changed and the burden shifted with the influx of settlers who appropriated the land.  It shifted as the basket makers became domestic employees in settlers' homes.  The art and skill of basket making came close to being sacrificed to the advance of the settlers' alien civilization.  Eventually the settlers recognized the skill and artistry required to create these beautiful baskets, and tribal women began to create baskets for the Curio Trade.  This is the story of innovation as the basket weavers recognized how to have their designs appeal to a non-native consumer, utilizing traditional techniques, relying on what their mothers' and culture taught while developing artistic expression within the baskets.  Their baskets became emblems of heritage, statements about cultural evolution, sought after by collectors, dealers, museums.  What started as an art created out of necessity evolved into a form of expression.  Today we see their spectacular basketry, but we do not see them.  This is the responsibility to tell their story.  

Thank you to Shirley and others who encouraged, guided, and  helped me shape this statement.  

Statement done, so on to the next part of the project.  Next blog post will start to take you through that process.

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