What’s New in the Community – September 2019

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Jim Denomie has received the 2019 McKnight Foundation Distinguished Artist Award.

Jim Denomie receives 2019 McKnight Foundation Distinguished Artist Award

Jim Denomie has received the 2019 McKnight Foundation Distinguished Artist Award. This honor, given annually to one Minnesota-based artist, includes a significant financial gift to support ongoing artistic endeavors.

The McKnight Foundation has selected visual artist Jim Denomie to receive the 2019 Distinguished Artist Award, a $50,000 gift created to honor a Minnesota artist who has made significant contributions to the state’s cultural life. Denomie, a member of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Ojibwe, combines vivid hues and disarming humor in powerful narrative paintings that invite new perspectives on historical and contemporary events in Indigenous and American life.

“Minnesota is Jim Denomie’s home, and its history has inspired many of his most powerful paintings,” says Kate Wolford, president of the McKnight Foundation. “Today, his impact and artistic vision extend far beyond our region. We’re thrilled to recognize an artist who is rooted in the Anishinaabe tradition of storytelling art and so deeply engaged in documenting the present day. His story is a reminder that creativity and self-expression can change the arc of our lives.”

Denomie is the first Native American artist to be chosen for the Distinguished Artist Award since its inception in 1996.

Native American Artists-in-Residence to Focus on Dakota Arts and Games and Ojibwe Woodcarving

The Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) announced two recipients for the 2019 Native American Artist-in-Residence program. This is the fifth year of the program which is designed to help revitalize traditional forms of Native American art. Each artist will serve a six-month paid residency to study the collections at MNHS and other institutions to aid in a better understanding of their respective art forms. They will also share this knowledge by developing community-based programming in their home communities. The 2019 awardees are:

• Jeremy Red Eagle is a member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate. He lives in Waubay, South Dakota. Red Eagle plans to explore items in the MNHS collections including bows and arrows, and games, like Creator’s game (traditional lacrosse), that play a part in defining roles for young men and boys in the Dakota community.

Red Eagle feels that sharing this work with his community is important because “teaching our traditional arts and games intertwine cultural teachings, values and revitalize the cultural significance [that] utilitarian arts bring to [a] cultural value system.”

• Gerald White is a member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. He lives in Deer River, Minnesota. White is an educator and woodcarver who plans to examine biikwaakadoo-baagamaagan or ball-headed clubs in MNHS collections. Initially used as implements of war, today the clubs are more commonly seen with powwow regalia, specifically the Woodland style, in which White dances.

Through his community project, White hopes to “…promote the woodland dance and associated regalia and authentic materials, especially the warclub.”

In addition to the residencies, two additional Encouragement Grants have been awarded to support artists to continue with their cultural arts and research. The grants consist of a stipend and a paid research visit to MNHS collections. The 2019 Encouragement Grant awardees are Jennie Kappenman, Red Lake Ojibwe, and LaVerne Whitebear, Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux and Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota.

The 2019 Artists-in-Residence were selected based on the recommendations of a panel consisting of experts in the field of Native arts, history and culture.