My father-n-law is a man of pride. His conversations always lead to our Native American traditions. Those conversations or should I say story telling which feel like very long lectures (that depends on my perspective based on what mood I’m in) are refreshing to hear. He speaks of the ways of the Seminole tradition and how we must not forget the language, the dance, ceremonies and the crafts of our culture. His stories can go on for hours. Sometimes leading me to journey with one sleepy closed eye and the other open for fear I’ll miss something good. Regardless I never stop listening to him about the joys and the injustice that Natives have experienced. As he sits and creates beautiful beadwork on a long loom, I’m reminded of how brilliant he is as an artist not just a craftsmen. When I look around his home, the walls are filled with paintings, prints, and photography. Everywhere you look there is art, traditional and contemporary. It’s not a thematic layout of decoration that can be found in Architecture Digest, but a home filled with great contemporary Native artists that he loves.
We’ll throw out different Native artist names sharing our great fines, like, Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie, Fritz Scholder or Terrance Houle. We both agreed that contemporary Native artist get very little attention in galleries, especially in NYC.
One day we started talking about how beautiful the National Museum of the American Indian was in Washington DC. It’s a beautiful structure. I shared with him a book NMAI put out called “HIDE: SKIN AS MATERIAL AND METAPHOR”. What a terrific book we agreed. Hide is filled with brilliant Native artistic and critical explorations of traditions, critical perspectives and politics. These contributing art have their own point of view of how they want viewed and their work, not from just the perspective of anthropologist photographer Curtis Edwards. The Images and critical essays in this book document the issues face by Native people living in two worlds, theirs and the world outside there culture.
The book is based on a exhibition curator Kathleen Ash-Milby put together in 2010. She put this but together to address skin as an actual art material.