Andrea Wilbur, Spindle Whorl

"Within the Circle of the Rim":
Nations Gathering on Common Ground

   A Traveling Exhibition

Exhibition Plan

Exhibition Plan


Provide Public Access to Broad Cross Section of Contemporary Indigenous Art of the Pacific Rim


This traveling exhibition showcases the results of the first U.S.-based Gathering of Indigenous Visual Artists of the Pacific Rim, held at The Evergreen State College in June, 2001.  The eight-day gathering brought together 71 artists representing 38 indigenous nations/tribal affiliations who worked in the following disciplines: printmaking, pottery, painting, carving and weaving.  Lead artists (Joe Feddersen, Nora Naranjo-Morse, Frank LaPena, Dempsey Bob and the Hazel Pete Institute of Chehalis Basketry) were selected to facilitate disciplinary, cultural, and historical exchanges between artists.


The exhibition brings this broad perspective to a wide audience by combining art venues, such as museums and galleries, with community-based institutions, such as schools and tribal museums.




The art work in the exhibition features work by emerging and established artists as well as those working in traditional and non-traditional media. Their work emphasizes many of the immediate issues faced by indigenous peoples today. The exhibit will be accompanied by a catalogue, videos, and other edcuation materials that will aid in informing audiences about these issues.


Cultural Preservation


The exihibit highlights the historiographical function of art in native cultures. The preservation and transmission of cultural history, social structures, and traditional cosmologies through art objects and performance is not only a focal point of the exhibition, it is also enacted by it. In many ways the exhibition is a record of a historical meeting that will continue to have an impact on the partricipants and their communities.





The exhibition will be organized around themes that will exemplify the main issues addressed by the artists during the gathering. Topics that were emphasized included: the legal, ecological, and economic obstacles encountered in gathering raw materials; the performative role of the objects produced; the evolving nature of traditional techniques and iconographies; and, ultimately, the creative autonomy found among native artists.



Media Connections – Material Concerns


This thematic section will feature objects that share similar modes of production. A medium often determines the techniques used to produce a work of art. Similar approaches to materials brought together artists from different cultures to discuss the processes of working materials such as clay, wood, and fibers. Radical differences, however, were found when discussions turned to the pre-production preparation of these materials. Some materials have become scarce through environmental deterioration while access to others is highly regulated, often by non-indigenous governments. Much of the work in this section illustrates the similarities and differences discovered during these exchanges.



·         Nora Naranjo-Morse (Tewa Pueblo)

·         Tina Wirihana (Maori)

·         Lisa Telford (Haida)

·         Dempsey Bob (Tahltan/Tlingit)

·         Hazel Pete (Chehalis)

·         Frank LaPena (Wintu Nomtipom)



Iconography in Transition


The gathering offered unique opportunities for discussions about the persistence of certain forms within traditional images. There were many instances when affinities between cultures could be discerned through similarities in shapes and compositions. Similarities were also noticed in the meanings that are given to these forms. At the same time the fluidity of these forms was also apparent. Many of these forms are constantly undergoing change, from within and without, as was the case during the gathering itself. Many artistic elements were preserved during the gathering through repetition and variation.



·         June Grant (Maori)

·         Nakia Williamson (Nez Perce)

·         Darcy Nicholas (Maori)

·         Herman Pi'ikea Clark (Hawai’i)

·         Othniel Oomittuk (Inupiat)

·         Joe Feddersen

·         Andrea Sigo-Wilbur



Performance and the Object


Another element that artists observed was the relationship between performance and art objects. Many of the cultures represented emphasized the importance of the finished product as a functional part of their lives. Whether produced for use during ceremonies or for utilitarian use, these objects are part of native life. It was also clear that the usefulness of these objects included their role in the gathering itself, as elements in the performance of cultural exchange.



·         Frank LaPena (Wintu Nomtipom)

·         Dorothy Waetford (Maori)

·         Dempsey Bob (Tahltan/Tlingit)

·         Roger Fernandes (Lower Elwha Klallam)

·         Alma Barton (Makah)

·         Larry McNeil (Tlingit/Nishgaa)

·         Hazel Pete (Chehalis)



Living Arts


The process of making art in indigenous communities often includes a moment when the work is given life. This moment affirms a connection with the past, a past that belongs to these artists. Through their work, they tell their own stories. These artists are historians who know where they stand within the circle of the rim.



·         Garry Nicholas (Maori)

·         Thelissa RedHawk (Cayuse)

·         Valerie Calac (Yakama)

·         Carving Collaborative Piece

·         Ceramics Collaborative Piece

·         Weaving Collaborative Piece

·         PrintingCollaborative


Additional Materials:

·         Exhibition Catalog

·         Video by Sandy Osawa (Makah), 14 minute introduction to exhibit.

·         Video by George Amiotte (Lakota), 47 minute documentary contextualizing the exhibit.