If you are anywhere near Minneapolis, Minnesota, you are fortunate to have a couple more weeks to see the truly wonderful show Re-Riding History: From the Southern Plains to the Matanzas Bay at All My Relations Gallery on Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis.
The seed of this exhibit is the story of the seventy-two American Indians forcibly removed from their homes in Oklahoma and imprisoned at Fort Marion on Matanzas Bay in St. Augustine, Florida, from 1875-1878. It was here that the strategy of using forced assimilation to eradicate indigenous cultures was first implemented as government policy.
The show includes 72 pieces created specifically for this exhibit. Both Native American and non-Native artists participated in the show, including a few who are descendants of those imprisoned at Fort Mason either during the 1870s or as part of a group of 500 held there in the 1880s.
The prisoners held at Fort Mason in the 1870s were given ledger paper and asked to create art to be sold to visitors. With this in mind, the artists in the Re-Riding History show were asked to create their art on paper of the same size as the original ledger art created at Fort Mason.
While it might seem that asking 72 artists to use the same material in the same size might result in an exhibition with similar-seeming works; that is far from the case. The amount of talent, originality, and creativity that went into retelling and reclaiming this history is absolutely incredible, and both the art and the stories it tells are thought-provoking and exquisitely executed. Despite being almost all works on paper, it is a varied and interesting show, with many pieces combining techniques and media in ways I have never seen before. (For example, there are beaded etchings, quill-pierced paper, and a multitude of printing processes on display). It’s also a visually beautiful and intellectually engaging show. And, of course, given the theme, the show evokes a lot of emotion – but an unexpectedly wide range of emotion (including humor).
Upper left corner, top: Harry Mithlo “Dance of the Ancient Ones” and John Hitchcock “Blood for Christ.” Upper left corner, lower: Jessie Barnes “Rest Well, White Bear” and Ruthann Godollei “Accounting in Honor of Bear’s Heart.” Upper center: Katherine Liontas Warren “A Lost Culture.” Upper right: Nicole Pietrantoni “Lesson (The boys brought twigs, the buds did not open).”
All photos from reridinghistory.org.
For those of you who can’t see it in Minneapolis, Re-Riding History will also be exhibited in Buffalo, New York; Lawton, Oklahoma; Kenosha, Wisconsin; and Carlisle, Pennsylvania over the next two years.
But don’t wait. This really is a show you should see.