the Footsteps of our Ancestors:
An Exhibition of Hotinonshonni Contemporary Art
Rick Hill (Tuscarora)
Tree of Life, 2004
Acrylic on canvas
exhibition is the result of collaborative efforts among the Salmon
River Central School District and the Akwesasne
Cultural Center on the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation in northern New
York and St. Lawrence University—partners in Teaching American
History Through Hotinonshonni Eyes, a three-year program funded
by the U.S. Department of Education. “Hotinonshonni” is
an Onondaga term that refers to the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy.
The program allows teachers in New York State schools with significant
Hotinonshonni populations to explore the ways in which the Hotinonshonni
have influenced and been influenced by American history, and
how they envision their hopes for the future.
According to Katsitsionni Fox and Sue Ellen Herne, two of the program
leaders and curators of this exhibition, Hotinonshonni students
are often disaffected by the teaching of American history because
traditional Native history is not respected in the classroom.
Most schoolteachers are not familiar with Native American history,
knowledge that students have learned through their families’ oral
histories is often discounted, rather than used to spark classroom
discussions. The American History Through Hotinonshonni Eyes program
will help teachers develop lesson plans and materials with which
to teach Native and non-Native students.
The Hotinonshonni artists in the exhibition were asked to submit
works that examine and critique history using the language
of contemporary art, and to reflect on how they were able to
true to the path
of their ancestors. How did the artists find ways to reinforce
Hotinonshonni teachings, history, and culture while attending
institutions that were built by what is essentially a colonizing
some, the answer is that they did not receive support and were
forced to look elsewhere. Though the artists address difficult
questions and topics, the grant program and exhibition are
at heart filled with hope and passion.
Edward J. Burnam, Jr., (Mohawk)
When did we meet? 2005
Mezzotint, drypoint, and sugarlift etching
Edward J. Burnam, Jr.
Joe “Ronio” David
Sue Ellen Herne
G. Peter Jemison
Natasha Smoke Santiago
Katsitsionni Fox teaches Native Studies and Native
Film at Salmon River Central School, and her work invigorates the
lives of many Hotinonshonni students. As the program coordinator
at the Akwesasne Cultural Center, Sue Ellen Herne works to promote
respect for the diversity within and outside the Native community.
Katsitsionni Fox (Mohawk)
The Education of the Haudenosaunee, 2005
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Inuit Prints and Drawings
from Cape Dorset
Intrepid Caribou, 2002
As a youngster reading the books of Arctic explorer Peter
Freuchen and leafing through old National Geographic magazines
in my grandparents’ library, I was fascinated by the
far North, and a trip to that part of North America had always
been high on my list of places to visit. Over the years,
I’ve acquired a few carvings by Alaskan natives, but
lately I’ve been exposed to the stone carvings, drawings
and prints of Cape Dorset and Baker Lake.
With the gentle prodding of friends and through their contacts,
I made plans to travel to Baffin Island in the summer of
2004. As I flew from Ottawa north to Iqaluit, the land became
treeless. Small floes of sea ice and remnants of deep snowdrifts
from the previous winter were still evident.
My aim was to meet Inuit artists and
to get out on the land with guides to learn more about the
region and its inhabitants.
I especially wanted to understand how the environment influenced
the people and their art. During the Vietnam war, I had been
stationed in the Aleutian Islands, a treeless area, but I
was not prepared for the endless expanse of barren ground
that I encountered first by plane, then on the ground and
from the sea.
Life in Cape Dorset is basic and isolated. Everyone in
the North lives according to nature, and there are no exceptions.
Away from the settlement, a walk to the old campsites makes
clear what life was like only a half century ago: wooden
tent frames, stone food caches and fox traps, inuksuit or
stone cairns, the justice circle, and bleached caribou antlers
are revealed in the landscape. Light and darkness, rock and
gravel, land animals, sea creatures and birds, fire, water
and ice—all mark life in the North.
The art from the West Baffin Eskimo Co-op and by individual
artists I met incorporated these fundamental ingredients.
The homes of stone carvers are obvious with rock chips and
stone dust piled by the base of their large wooden utility
spool tables. A visit to the co-op’s print shops and
a stonecut print demonstration taught this neophyte some
of the technical aspects of the printing process. I’ve
always considered indigenous people to be natural artists
due to their relationship to the land, and my experience
in Cape Dorset reinforced this.
In the settlement, sharp juxtapositions are created between
the old and the modern: young mothers carrying their babies
in the hoods of light summer parkas or amautiks, and kids
in hip-hop clothing listening to iPods; sledges and snowmobiles;
dog teams kept on small islands offshore for the summer;
square-sterned, motor-powered canoes for weekend trips
to outlying camps; and the constant presence of discarded
bags and soda cans from the general stores set against
the pristine wilderness. An elemental starkness in the
from Cape Dorset may be derived from sharply honed strategies
of survival devised over many centuries. And yet, in addition
to traditional representations of the natural environment,
other facets of modern daily life, such as airplanes and
snowmobiles, are now incorporated in prints, drawings,
and stone carvings.
Hammond, New York
Lost in the Storm, 2001
Special thanks to Allan P. Newell, St. Lawrence
University trustee, and Dorset Fine Arts,Toronto, Ontario.
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Cloth Only Wears to
Yoruba Textiles and Photographs from the Beier Collection
In Yoruba culture and religion, the significance
of cloth goes beyond body covering to express a rich and
profound belief system. In its creation, the color, weave
and design of cloth reflect the aesthetic sensibilities and
character of the artist and of the future owner. Extensive
use of opulent materials in a garment conveys the power and
authority of the wearer. Cloth not only defines the identity
of the individual and family, but also evokes the ancestors,
thus creating a metaphorical link between the living and
the dead. Fabric, which the Yoruba believe outlives its owner,
can disintegrate but cannot disappear from the material world. “Cloth
only wears to shreds”—a refrain from an Ifa divination
verse—refers to this deathless, eternal quality.
The textiles and garments, which elucidate the artistry,
technology and ideas behind their creation, were selected
for this exhibition from a vast and unique body of Yoruba
material, some 160 textiles and ritual objects produced in
the late 19th and 20th centuries. Examples of resist-dyed,
hand-woven, silkscreened and machine-printed textiles are
presented, including women’s adire cloth—dark
indigo cotton with bold or subtle patterns in light blue.
The vivid spectacle of color, texture and movement represented
in the exhibition is the result of the life’s work
of Uli Beier, who first recognized and promoted textiles
as a major form of Yoruba artistry and cultural expression.
The accompanying black-and-white photographs feature Beier’s
compelling portraits of Yoruba chiefs, dancers, and others.
essays by Jill Meredith and John Pemberton III
in the exhibition
The exhibition Cloth Only Wears to Shreds:
Yoruba Textiles and Photographs from the Beier Collection was
organized by the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College with
guest curators Rowland O. Abiodun and John Pemberton III.
The lecture is funded
by the Jeanne Scribner Cashin Endowment for Fine Arts; special
thanks to Obiora Udechukwu, Dana professor
and chair of fine arts.
Drawings by Chika Okeke-Agulu and Marcia Kure
Left to right: The Elder, 2004; Soldier with
2004; Taj Mahal Walking, 2004
Kola nut pigment, ink, watercolor, and pencil on paper
My poems reflect upon events in both Nigeria
(Homeland) and the United States (Wonderland). As might become
obvious, many of the artworks—Marcia’s and mine—are
meditations or statements on specific social and political
experiences and phenomena, particularly those associated
with war and military dictatorship. As such, the poems speak
to the concerns and themes of most of my own work and some
of Marcia’s. Of course, poetry may not always be the
best medium for explaining visual art, but it adds a new
layer of reading and understanding to the images.
Nsukka 1996, 1999
Charcoal and graphite on paper
Beyond the din of war and
horizons of baking sand
and afterimages of
echoes silent voices
of your heartbeat
Away from thundering howitzers
and sulking spitfires throwing
homeland dreams into the sun’s eyes
a camouflaged voice calls forth
dancing pennants of another victory -Chika
Jos (September 12)
These wide eyes
Make us remember . . .
Two babies among rubble
Left in the trail
In the land of Ezekiel
Eyes wide shut . . .
Two babies washed in blood
Of a mother trampled
By martial boots
In the Sea of Galilee
In the din of Alahu Akbar!
And frothing Dobermans seeking
The night’s jugular
A newborn mourns
The world’s placenta. -Chika
lecture is partially funded by the Jeanne Scribner Cashin
Endowment for Fine Arts; special thanks to Obiora Udechukwu,
Dana professor and chair of fine arts at St. Lawrence University.
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St. Lawrence University
Fine Arts Faculty Exhibition
Jamel Craig, Independence Is Awesome, oil and spray paint
[1350-1400; Middle English faculte < from Anglo-French,
Middle French < Latin facultat- (s. of facultas) ability,
power, equiv. to facil(is) easy.] Any of the powers or capacities
possessed by the human mind.
Melissa Schulenberg, untitled graphite drawing, 2005
We are a diverse group
of individuals connected by our desire and need to express
ourselves. We are from different parts
of the world and have traveled around the globe. We have
reared families, worked for social justice, volunteered
at homeless shelters, worked at awful summer jobs, and raised
adorable pets (mostly cats). We write poetry, sail, hunt,
cook, listen to music, hike, read 20 books a year, watch
bad TV, drive 80 miles for a cup of good coffee, eat organic
food (and even an occasional Oreo), go to museums, spend
too much time on the Internet, and try to make sense of
indicators and global warming—just like you.
Faye Serio, Grass
Cutters, Sarnath, India, digital photograph
We make sense of this crazy, beautiful world
through art. We paint, draw, print, collage, photograph,
cut, paste, sew, change, adapt, and start over. And over.
When we think we get it right, we start the process again.
And again. The finished product is not what motivates
(my) artwork. The process of creation is what drives my
and artistic production (Craig). We find inspiration in things
big and small, organic and man-made, and in political and
social issues. We create works that are literal or
themselves into new realities, different from their sources,
yet still maintaining an essence of their origins (Schulenberg).
This quest for visual thrills and beautiful mysteries
is an evolving scavenger hunt, a constant adventure (Strauss).
We find beauty in the varied colors of skin, fabrics,
and landscapes of different countries (Serio) and strive
to develop clarity of vision accompanied inevitably by
of expression (Udechukwu).
Lindy Strauss, untitled intaglio print
Obiora Udechukwu, The Face Behind
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Amy Hauber: Recent Work
carroty and carroty detail, 2005
I was born in 1984. It has been a short but
exciting life. Sometimes when I was touring with my post-punk
band, Amy and the Angry Inch (now defunct), I would think
back to the painful experience that my mother had to endure,
giving birth to a daughter who was bigger than herself. My
own body, from that first day that I entered the world, has
been filled with nothing but heart-shaped Mexican jumping
beans, and for that reason I feel fortunate that my best
friends Cherry Rabbit, Speed Racer, Penny the Pug, and numerous
imaginary artists were there to help me as I was growing
up and trying to understand the world.
Often plagued by a sense that I am walking through a
dream, here but not really here, I have always been
prone to imagination
for comfort. When flying a kite in Chicago with my father
and brother, I remember feeling like the kite against the
blue sky and like the car door I sat next to as we drove
away, and like the wind, and then I knew that I could remove
myself from any experience.
Soon enough I realized that beautiful cakes
had a special aesthetic significance in my life and that
if I focused
on the colorful flowers and sugary sweet memories they
soon hold, then I could also be walking a tightrope from
my bedroom window to the neighbor’s bedroom window.
In that bedroom, I could be an entirely different floaty
somebody. From there, I could tightrope-walk to another
room down the street and watch television with the family
I never found a way to enjoy the TV dinners they ate,
but marveled at the compartmentalized packaging, wishing
was a huge aluminum, form-fitted compartment just for
my Mexican jumping bean body. When my heart filled my
then I could shut the shiny aluminum lid and push my
heart back down to where it should be.
seven video stills from untitled (cake hole), 2005
Amy Hauber is an artist and educator residing
in Canton, N.Y., where she is an assistant professor of fine
arts at St. Lawrence University. She teaches sculpture, ceramic
sculpture and foundations, with an emphasis on cross-disciplinary/inter-media
studies in all three areas.
in Chicago and transplanted many times before landing at
the age of twelve in her parents’ hometown of Pittsburgh,
Pa., Hauber studied information science, English writing,
and fine arts at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie
Mellon University before receiving her MFA from the University
of Wisconsin-Madison. She has also taught at the University
of Wisconsin-Madison, the Milwaukee Institute of Art and
Design and Carnegie Mellon University.
Working across media disciplines, her research interests
include collaboration; digital, material and sex culture;
and the construction of morality, identity and aesthetics
in contemporary society.
Hauber has twice been a resident
artist in the John Michael Kohler Arts Center's ARTS/Industry program
and was awarded an honorary fellowship from the University
She has exhibited her work nationally and is represented
in Chicago by Western Exhibitions. Hauber’s ceramic-based
objects were featured in American Craft Magazine:
Portfolio Amy Hauber, December/January 2002.
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Untold Stories of My
Present, Past, and Dreamtime:
Prints by Melanie Yazzie
Melanie Yazzie, History?, 1996, screen print
I am Navajo/Dine of the Salt and Bitter
Water clans. I grew up on a Navajo reservation in northeastern
Arizona and began traveling at an early age with my family.
At various times in my childhood, we traveled across the
United States and into Mexico, which helped me look past
the boundaries of the reservation and become curious about
what was happening beyond the sacred mountains.
The process or medium I use in my work depends
on the statement or idea I am exploring. Lately, the images
are about transformation,
womanhood, and the role of animals in my life. These symbols/images
are linked to my travels. Since 1995, I have formed strong
relations with Maori artists in New Zealand, and completed
my sixth visit there last January. I have also collaborated
for over eight years with Siberian artists from the Amur
River region of Russia, but they speak very little English,
which makes communication difficult. In the summer of 1999,
I taught printmaking at the Pont-Aven School of Contemporary
Art in France, and returned in 2004 to keep connections open
with the Bretons I met there. I am able to use all of these
experiences to tell stories in my artwork.
Much of the history of other nations overlaps
with my people’s
history. Meeting people from different cultures has grown
to be a major part of my life. I am currently working with
an artist from Lebanon on a printmaking project that will
travel to the Middle East. Other prints are currently in
Northern Ireland, South Africa and Bulgaria.
I was brought up as a traditional Navajo,
and respect for self and others has always been important
to my people. Western
influences have also made me who I am today. I am proud
to be Navajo/Dine. I hold only my story and by no means speak
for all Native peoples.
Melanie Yazzie, Buffy the Fairy,
The exhibition and lecture are funded in
part by the Barnes Endowment Fund and the Jeanne Scribner
Cashin Endowment Fund. Special thanks to Melissa Schulenberg,
assistant professor of fine arts.
Monday-Thursday 12-8 p.m.
Friday-Saturday 12-5 p.m.
All exhibitions and related educational programs
are free and open to the public. The
Gallery welcomes individuals and groups for guided tours; please
call (315) 229-5174 for information.