Continuing through July 31, 2014
Native American artist Shan Goshorn weaves traditional Cherokee baskets, but their message and material is markedly different from that of her ancestors. The Tulsa-based artist and member of the Eastern Band Cherokee Nation creates her meticulous baskets using strips of paper printed with language related to the stereotyping and oppression that her people continue to face. This means the papers she uses are replicas of laws, treaties, and land allotment agreements, among other things. The delicate cream and blue watercolor paper strips in "10 Little Indians" are overlaid with photographs of young Native American men, who wear traditional clothing and adornments. Goshorn increases the intimate nature of the work by handwriting the names of the photographed boys around the rim of the basket.
In the 1980s Goshorn taught herself traditional Cherokee weaving styles, partially to confront what she identifies as the “historical trauma” incurred by generations of Native Americans who faced discrimination, appropriation, forced cultural and religious assimilation, and any number of other dehumanizing actions. “They Were Called Kings” is a trio of tightly woven, cylindrical baskets, each painted with commanding portraits of a Native American man, elegantly outfitted in clothing and accessories that suggest high tribal status. Borrowing the title of her exhibition, “We Hold These Truths,” from the Declaration of Independence, Goshorn reminds her audience of the lofty ideals and promises ostensibly inclusive of all members of a young nation that ultimately didn’t translate to its indigenous populations.