Yəhaw̓ Indigenous Project Comes to SPSCC Art Gallery

Friday, February 8, 2019

Article via Nisqually Valley News
By Daniel Warn

The 11th-annual Native American Art Exhibition at South Puget Sound Community College is in partnership with an indigenous community-building effort in the Pacific Northwest. 

“Part of the partnership is an overall project called, yəhaw̓,” said Asia Tail, one of the project’s three curators, who are working with over 200 indigenous creatives to put on all sorts of pop-up art shows, mentorship programs, residencies and more across the region. “Yəhaw̓ is culminating in a big exhibition at King Street Station in Seattle, March 23.”

South Puget Sound Community College’s 2019 Native American Art Exhibition is part of the overall yəhaw̓ project, and is one of Tail’s specific projects. The exhibit is called “Now We Know: Indigenous Artists Write the World” and will be shown at The Gallery at the Kenneth J. Minnaert Center for the Arts on South Puget Sound Community College campus.

Tail has been curating indigenous artists into the exhibition from her own network of creatives, and has found other artists as well.

“Part of yəhaw̓, was we did an open call and anyone that wanted to be part of it could be part of it,” Tail said. “For this exhibition we strived to have a vast array of experience levels…. We are always trying to make sure we include people that it might be their first art show alongside much more experienced artists.”

The show will feature mixed media, audio, visual, text, film, collage, printmaking and more, all from indigenous artists.

“The theme of this particular exhibition is the intersection of literary arts, storytelling and visual arts in indigenous communities,” Tail said. “It features artists from the Pacific Northwest…and from tribes all over.”

Tail, of the Cherokee Nation, said that all art is political — even art that chooses not to be political is making a political statement — and this exhibition is no exception.

One group that is featured in the gallery is an example of what she means.

“The Haunt Qollective uses this really interesting performative metaphor of ghosts and of haunting, and acknowledging all the indigenous people who have died as a result of colonization and continue to die as a result today,” Tail said.

She said this “Qollective” — with a full name of Super Futures Haunt Qollective — takes this political statement even farther by actually acting as those haunting presences, inferring a type of aggression toward the colonizer in a way that brings them out of passive victimhood and into their own agency. 

Sean Barnes, who runs The Gallery at South Puget Sound Community College, said that he welcomes the work that will be coming from the indigenous artists.

“South Puget Sound has been working with the indigenous community for 11 years to produce programing that engages with the youth,“ he said, adding that there are only a handful a gallery slots throughout the year, and a lot of them go to students.

“Now We Know: Indigenous Artists Write the World” is open now and will run until March 8 in The Gallery at the Kenneth J. Minnaert Center for the Arts on South Puget Sound Community College campus.

Guest curator Asia Tail, a tall Native woman with long, dark hair, displaying a poster from the Super Futures Haunt Qollective. It reads: "Am I going away? No. Resist that which makes you a monster and me a ghost."
Photo by Daniel Warn.