“We Are Still Here” will highlight works of Native American artists, representing more than a dozen tribes.
The works, curated by artist Joeseph Arnoux, are in a variety of styles and mediums, from the traditional to the contemporary, music, dance, spoken word and Native foods.
The show will be Nov. 20-22 at Hatch: Creative Business Incubator in Spokane Valley. It comes during Native American Heritage Month.
Arnoux speaks softly. There is a very Zen-like quality about him that carries into his artwork, intricate and meditative studies of shapes and thoughts deeply rooted in his bloodline.
Using a mix of mediums, Arnoux represents his Native American culture – he’s a member of the Blackfeet Tribe – in juxtaposition to his upbringing of going to church on Sundays with his Dutch foster family in Michigan.
“I’ve come to terms with it. There were pros and cons to my upbringing,” he said. “Now I’m getting back to my roots, and making art enables me to express myself versus bottling it up.”
While work created by Native Americans is often kept to casinos, pow wows, and museums, Arnoux hopes this exhibit, in a more inclusive setting, will be beneficial. “Hopefully it will educate others about Indigenous Americans through art,” he said.
Arnoux’s mother, artist Diane Covington, who came up with the name of the show, agrees. “I just feel that we, as tribal people with artistic expression interwoven throughout our culture, can inform Spokane’s larger art scene,” she said. “We seem to function as a separate entity, and I’d like to see the art of the area less segregated and more inclusive of the original peoples and our diverse artistic expression from traditional to contemporary. Hopefully the show will not only introduce the area to some talented artists with something to say, but also welcome these artists into the larger art community.”
As Arnoux draws patterns with sharpies and paint markers in black, gold and sepia, he talks about things like blood quantum, certificates of Indian blood, lineage, percentages and misconceptions.
“I add many layers and a mix of elements including small details like weaving and bold strokes,” he said.
Some of his work is sad, others full of hope. Accepting the good and the bad, Arnoux speaks through his art. He hopes that others might listen or also speak in an attempt to teach others or learn, to understand, to grow, to heal, to embrace where they come from and to look forward to where they’re going.
“I hope this event will encourage Native prosperity,” he said.
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