November 12, 2011

Birch bark and skateboards in Mni Sota

Birch bark & skateboards in 'Mni Sota'

American Indian traditions are updated in a new show at All My Relations Gallery

By Mary AbbeAmerican Indian skateboards?

Why not. Time didn't end when the buffalo stopped roaming and the treaty ink dried. The first people of Minnesota live on, holding to traditional ways but adapting to modern urban life.

So there hangs Bobby Wilson's skateboard sculpture in the midst of "Mni Sota: Reflections of Time and Place," a handsome show of contemporary American Indian art on view through Dec. 16 at All My Relations Gallery in south Minneapolis. The show features about 50 pieces of bead and quill work, birch-bark wall sculpture and artifacts, paintings, bandolier bags, shawls and other art. While well grounded in native heritage, the objects are executed with contemporary flair and sophistication.

All 17 artists are enrolled tribal members rooted in or residents of Minnesota, a name derived from the Dakota words "mni sota," which loosely translates as "clouds reflecting in water." That link to place is an important foundation for the show, the first to be conceived and organized by the 10-month-old gallery, which aims to be the leading showplace for native arts in the Upper Midwest.
Comment:  For more on skateboards and art, see Unreserved Trailer and Apache Skateboards' "Assassin Art."

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