Opening: Stitched in Sovereignty exhibition
Celebrate with us the opening of Stitched in Sovereignty: Contemporary Beadwork from Indigenous North America. The exhibition features a round dozen beaded objects created by some of the most outstanding emerging and established beadwork artists in Native America. It will run through Oct. 31, 2020.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is still unclear whether we will be able to offer an in-person opening event or ongoing in-person access to the exhibition. Couse-Sharp Historic Site will post information about access as we are able to make decisions based on closure orders and other official guidance.
Guest curated by Chelsea Herr, PhD (Choctaw), formerly an intern at the Couse-Sharp Historic Site, curator of Indigenous Art and Culture at the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, OK. Dr. Herr and Taos scholar Dr. E. Jane Burns also co-authored The Couse Collection of Native Beadwork, published by The Couse Foundation and available at couse-sharp.org/shop June 1.
Featured artists include Molly Murphy Adams (Lakota descent), Katherine Boyer (Métis), Brit Ellis (Onondaga), Samantha Jacobs (Seneca), Shelby Rowe (Chicaksaw), and Kellen Trenal (Nez Perce).
Stitched in Sovereignty highlights how Indigenous peoples maintain control of their own cultures, social and governing systems, belief and knowledge systems, and relationships with other sovereign groups. These concepts are expressed in the materials and processes of beadwork, a medium that has a long tradition in Indigenous North America and continues to evolve today.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the US government’s return of Taos Blue Lake and its surrounding lands to the Pueblo, which is the only time that the government has ceded land to a recognized tribe without requiring anything in return. While the exhibition is not solely dedicated to Taos Pueblo’s assertion of sovereignty over its land and the relationships they maintain with it, the goal is to illustrate Indigenous self-governance and determination.
The artists challenge the viewer to consider how sovereignty extends beyond the strictly political definition—to include cultural, intellectual, spiritual, and individual components. Some pieces reference different communities’ fights to retain their land and resource relationships; others address the relationships between Native nations and settler governments. Several artists highlight the adaptability of Indigenous cultures as an expression of cultural and social sovereignty.