Evergreen State College Longhouse celebrates 25 + 1 anniversary of supporting Indigenous arts
Te Longhouse Education and Cultural Center celebrates its anniversary with an in-person gallery exhibit, its first since the closure of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Longhouse calls its âAcross the Watersâ gallery celebration a 25 +1 because 2020 has marked a quarter of a century since its inception. The exhibition pays homage to Indigenous art created by The evergreen state college teachers, students and resident artists from around the world who have participated in the centre’s public service program.
Each year, the Longhouse holds a gallery exhibition to honor the artists in residence, students, instructors and workshop participants and their work. The gallery offers a full range of mediums, such as glass and bronze, fabrics, recycled materials and more. The pieces include molded glass and bronze sculptures, woodcarvings, prints and conventional clothing for example. Contemporary artist Terresa WhiteThe bronze sculpture of, “Antidote,” adorns a pedestal as a centerpiece, greeting visitors as they walk through the door. âAntidoteâ is a bronze sculpture of a polar bear and a woman who are one, sharing a body, each showing a full side, but sharing a single emotion in the gaze. White, who is Yupik and a participant in the Longhouse Program, is inspired by tribal stories of transformation and the interrelation of human spirits, animals and the natural elements.
The work âAntidoteâ defines the theme of the gallery exhibition in that the works on display can all offer some degree of fusion. Since the Longhouse residency program invites artists from across the region and Maori artists from New Zealand, combinations, confluences and overlaps are common. One area of ââthe gallery features a number of glass pieces, made by glassblowers that have joined a previously more common field of art for men. Blown glass selections are receptacles such as baskets, vases and bowls. On closer inspection, traditional Aboriginal details merge with more modern practices such as fine lines in a molded glass bowl resembling strands in a woven basket. Parts of the gallery also feature evidence of the passage of knowledge from one artist to another as student and teacher pieces collide. A traditional and customary art, garment handcrafted by Skokomish Bruce Subiyay Miller is displayed next to a play performed by his student. Guest artist and Maori visual arts teacher, Robert Jahnke’s charred cedar sculpture is representative of the convergence of Pacific Northwest and Maori elements.
âI hope that visitors to the exhibition will appreciate the wide variety of ideas that the artists bring to this exhibition,â says
Longhouse Managing Director Laura Ver Meulen. âIndigenous artists work in all types of artistic media and some of their works might surprise visitors. Additional works in the exhibit include recycled materials, a more modern art form which in this case is interwoven with Indigenous characteristics. Metal sculptures, drawings, paintings, intricate basketry and masks are just a few of the wonderful pieces on display in the gallery, all of which reflect the wide range of artists visiting and working at Evergreen.
The Longhouse Center supports new artists, encourages established ones and invites many artists to have collaborative experiences. The Home of Hospitality, as the center is named, was the vision of Evergreen’s Native American Studies program founder, Mary Ellen Hillaire, of the Lummi Nation, in 1972. She wanted a cultural structure in which people could teach and learn interchangeably. The building was the first of its kind on the campus of a US public college when it opened in 1995. Longhouse’s mission is to promote the art of Indigenous cultures by educating people through creative expression and economic development. He did this for 25 years through residency programs, starting first with local tribes, then expanding to the region and finally internationally to indigenous tribes in the Pacific. Artists from different cultural backgrounds came to share, grow and refine their talents.
Support comes in many forms, such as providing artists with more advanced tools, studio time, or classes to develop their skills. It means reallocating funding to other emerging Indigenous arts programs. âThe Longhouse looks forward to offering more workshops and in-person arts events that celebrate Indigenous arts and cultures,â said Ver Meulen. âWe will continue to provide ways for people to participate in the virtual world made necessary by the pandemic. We will provide artistic creation opportunities for youth and host workshops and residencies in tribal communities in a four-state region that includes Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana and work with other colleges and universities in across the country who will support arts culture in tribal communities in their region. Of course, we plan to have a major art exhibit in the Evergreen Gallery each fall.
“Across the Waters” is located in the Evergreen gallery at Daniel J. Evans Hall on the Evergreen State College campus. The exhibition runs from November 13, 2021 to January 29, 2022. The specific hours for each opening day of the gallery are posted on the longhouse Web page.