Broadening Horizons – de Young Museum June 12th Native American Program Series Begins

Standing on the Spot of of my Ancestors
Standing on the Spot of of my Ancestors

If you are ever in the area of Golden Gate Park, make an effort to visit the Tower at the de Young Museum. Thankfully, the San Francisco Bay Area still retains many places from which the view of this coast untouched can be imagined. Yet, the Tower at the de Young offers a unique view. Open daily. Tower Access is Free.

The new de Young Museum is located across the street from the new Academy of Sciences
The new de Young Museum is located across the street from the new Academy of Sciences

I want to take the time to thank the de Young Museum, and John E. Buchanan, the museum’s director, for taking the initiative and infusing support for Bay Area Native Artists in creating the Native American Program Series to broaden its focus on Native American Art. The museum has assembled members of the Native American community to collaborate in creating programming for the series.

On June 12th, 2009 the de Young Friday Series will focus on California traditional and contemporary artists. The event will center around California baskets from the Museum’s permanent collection that will soon go into storage to make space for Eskimo and Inuit Art traveling to the de Young from the Thomas G. Fowler collection.

Its perhaps too cliché to say that Native people believe spirit lives in everything. Sometimes, when such statements are made, the hearers of these words filter the belief through stereotypes from history and media images. Even if one can overcome that first barrier, inevitably, the biggest of all is – Native beliefs go against progress, are a step backwards instead of forward. Most times, that is supposed to be the final answer.

What happens today when those viewpoints about the world clash? Who wins? How does collaboration move forward if once again one is told, ultimately, your beliefs will not win out. Try all you might, wait as long as you want. Ultimately, its not going to happen. Why? Money. Power. No Standing. Yet, to say only this, in itself would also be a cliché.

I commend the de Young and the Education Program staff for starting the dialog, and to the committee members who bring a wealth of experience and knowledge. We are off to a good start, and our work can be a model of how institutions and native communities can begin working together from a place that brings positive solutions, and, offers a chance for a new outcome from old dialogs.

I will be exploring the topic more in video interviews June 12th with Ohlone tribal leaders, Ann Marie Sayers, and Tony Cerda, and master Pomo and Yokot master weavers, who will explain more about the Ohlone, Pomo, and Yokot relationships to the natural materials used in making traditional regalia and baskets, and how environmental changes are impacting sources for materials.

I will also be interviewing the several contemporary artists who will be involved in honoring the California baskets, including performance artist L. Frank, quilt artist Charlene Sul, and tribal community members and artists from the Cherokee, Lakota, Apache, Mexica, and Pima community in the Bay Area.

Left Behind
Left Behind

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