In January 2018, I visited the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians to spend time at the Chahta Immi Cultural Center. I brought copies of photographs I found in the National Archives that detailed arts and crafts workshops sponsored by the Indian Arts and Crafts Board in the 1960s and 1970s. I hoped to speak with the participants of these workshops and learn more about the aftereffects of these programs. Unfortunately, most of the participants had passed away. Nevertheless, it was wonderful for community members to see photographs of relatives that had been stored in the National Archives for decades. I left copies of these photographs with Amanda Bell, tribal archivist, along with a list of the Mississippi Choctaw items in the Indian Arts and Crafts Board Headquarters collection (now housed at the National Museum of the American Indian).
My visit was covered in the Choctaw Community News (vol. XLVII, No. 2, February 2017).
On February 22, I had the opportunity to present a research paper at UC Berkeley’s Ethnic Studies department. Sponsored by Cal’s American Indian Graduate Student Association, the Crossing Paths program pairs a graduate student with an undergraduate student to present research papers in indigenous studies to fellow students at Berkeley. I discussed the research I conducted in Australia on the history of metal gorgets given to Australian Aboriginals, their connection to earlier gorgets in North America, and how contemporary indigenous Australian artists are reclaiming and recreating gorgets to indigenize the colonial past. More of this research will be presented later this year, and it was wonderful to receive feedback–especially since an indigenous Australian student attended the talk!
Such wonderful news! I have received a project grant from the Center for Craft, Creativity & Design (CCCD). Based in Asheville, North Carolina, the CCCD “advances the understanding of craft by encouraging and supporting research, critical dialogue, and professional development in the United States.”
The CCCD grant will allow me to conduct research and interviews for the third chapter of my dissertation. That chapter examines the pottery, basketry, and woodworking workshops held among the North Carolina Cherokee and Mississippi Choctaw during the 1960s and 1970s. After gathering archival documents about these workshops, it will be fruitful to spend time at the tribal archives and speak with community members about these workshops.
The fall 2016 issue of American Indian magazine features my article on public artworks created by Native artists in the United States. The magazine pitched the idea to me, and immediately I was interested in exploring the topic.
I had many questions.
- What constitutes public art? Can’t petroglyphs and pictographs be public art?
- What are the classifications of public art (memorials, murals, etc.)?
- How did Native artists receive these public art commissions?
- Are there certain areas of the U.S. with more works by Native artists (Oklahoma, the American Southwest)?
- Where do these artworks reside (government buildings, airports, universities)?
- Alaska often gets overlooked in discussions about Native art. What works can be found in Alaska?
- What about graffiti artists and murals in alleys?
It was a wonderful assignment. I am thankful to artists and scholars who answered my questions about specific artworks and sent me images. And the article layout is beautiful. To read the article, visit Montiel, Anya. “Outside the Walls: Indigenous Public Art.” American Indian (Fall 2016): 14-17, 19-24, 26-27.
From July 11 to August 6, 2016, I participated in the summer institute at the Newberry Consortium in American Indian Studies in Chicago. This year’s institute led by professors Kate Wisecup and Kathleen Washburn focused on “Writing Indigenous Histories: Print, Material, and Digital Sites of Memory.”
Besides accessing the Newberry Library’s archives for dissertation research, I wrote a research paper and gave a conference presentation during the Newberry’s graduate student conference. Entitled “Art or Ethnography: The Politics of Display and the Entangled Messages of the 1939 Indian Court at the Golden Gate International Exposition,” my presentation analyzed a slide reel on the 1939 exposition in the Newberry’s archive.
On June 10, 2016, I gave a gallery talk at the Yale University Art Gallery, in conjunction with the recent installation of five works on paper by American artist Rick Bartow (1946-2016).
The Yale University Art Gallery has seven works on paper by Bartow, dating from 1985 to 1989. These early works are from the Richard Brown Baker collection and have not been exhibited before. Fellow PhD candidate Sequoia Miller and I proposed the installation and wrote the gallery text.
The audience for the afternoon talk included a wonderful group of Yale students, faculty, and New Haven residents. The accompanying photo features Yale Native students and me.
“Gallery Talk, A Pacific Coast Artist: The Life and Art of Rick E. Bartow”
Friday, June 10, 2016, 1:30 pm
Raised along the Oregon coast, artist Rick E. Bartow (1946–2016), a member of the Wiyot tribe of northern California, incorporated the Pacific Coast environment into his unique figurative drawings. Focusing on works by Bartow in the Gallery’s collection on view in the Jane and Richard Levin Study Gallery, Anya Montiel, Ph.D. candidate in American Studies, discusses how Bartow’s life and homeland informed his works.
The summer issue of American Indian magazine, published by the National Museum of the American Indian, features my article on painter Athena LaTocha. While she lives and works in New York, LaTocha was born and raised in Alaska. For her art practice, she does not use brushes but, instead, utilizes bricks and tire shreds to move the paint on the canvas.
This is my 20th article for the magazine. I hope you enjoy it!
Athena LaTocha (Summer 2016)