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In the News:

Sinew featured on The Current's Weekend Arts Roundup:
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"Female Native Artists Exhibit at Artistry" (City Pages):
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In the Inez Greenberg Gallery...

Sinew: Female Native Artists of the Twin Cities

Part of the Guerilla Girls Twin Cities Takeover

Curated by Dyani White Hawk Polk
Featuring Carolyn Anderson; Julie Buffalohead; Andrea Carlson; Maggie Thompson; and collaboration team Heid Erdrich, Louise Erdrich, and Elizabeth Day.

February 12 – April 1, 2016
Opening Reception: Friday, February 12, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Artist Talk/Panel Discussion: Tuesday, March 1, 7:00 p.m.

Sinew: (noun)
1. a tendon; 2. Often, sinews. the source of strength, power, or vigor: the sinews of the nation; 3. strength; power; resilience: a man of great moral sinew (Dictionary.com)

“Video with Objects” (video still), Andrea Carlson, digital video – 2014, 1:15 mins

Curator's Statement:

Historically, Native American women were the primary artisans in tribal cultures.  The vast majority of what lives in collections of historical Native arts such as beadwork, porcupine quillwork, pottery, weavings, clothing and adornment...the list goes on...was made by women.  The amazing legacy of Native American art and visual culture we know today was predominantly created by women.

Sinew–thread created from the back bone tendons of animals–is a material central to historic Native arts and cultural knowledge. Before cotton thread became readily available in the U.S., women used sinew to sew garments and create the stunning porcupine quillwork, beadwork, clothing, and other artforms requiring stitching. This simple material metaphorically speaks to the strength of a people and very specifically to the strength of the women who used this material to create phenomenally masterful artistic items.

I find it interesting that within the definition of sinew listed above, the example used is gender specific; "a man of great moral sinew". Such a seemingly insignificant detail. But considering that I specifically looked up this word for its reference to the strength of women, it signals the greater importance of this movement the Guerilla Girls are leading.  This small, yet uncanny indicator points to the importance of the Guerilla Girls work and each of the exhibitions contributing to the Twin Cities takeover.  The reality is we still live in a world that holds the work of men higher than that of women, that favors the strength of men over the strength of women.  This is especially true in the field of fine arts. 

Through the Guerilla Girls Takeover and this exhibition, I am grateful for the opportunity to increase visibility and recognition of the strength, vigor, power, and resilience of Native American women and their important contributions to the arts, our communities, our families and our world.

This exhibition is dedicated to the millions of Native women that, with immense strength, intelligence, and grace, humbly serve as the backbone of our nations.

The artists selected for this exhibition are some of the most celebrated and accomplished female Native artists currently living and working in the Twin Cities area.  Each one has made significant contributions to the wealth of art in the Twin Cities and beyond.


About the Curator

Dyani White Hawk is Sicangu Lakota, an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. White Hawk earned a MFA in studio arts in 2011 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and BFA in 2-Dimensional studio arts in 2008 from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. From 2011-2015 she served as the Gallery Director and Curator of the All My Relations Gallery in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In March 2015, White Hawk transitioned into a full-time studio practice.

White Hawk is an award-winning artist and recipient of a Native Arts and Cultures Regional Fellowship, a Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant, a McKnight Visual Artist Fellowship, and a Southwestern Association of Indian Arts Discovery Fellowship. She has also participated in cultural arts residency exchanges in South Africa, Botswana, and Australia.

White Hawk’s works have been acquisitioned into numerous collections around the country including the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. She is represented by Shiprock in Santa Fe, NM and the Bockley Gallery in Minneapolis.


This exhibition is organized as part of the Guerrilla Girls Twin Cities Takeover. From January to March 2016 the Takeover will include over thirty arts and cultural organizations in Minneapolis/St. Paul and surrounding cities. From small non-profit art centers to major cultural institutions in the region, these partners will be highlighting gender and racial inequalities, taking on stereotypes and hypocrisies, and promoting artistic expression by the often overlooked and underrepresented. Join the collective roar for change at www.ggtakeover.com

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