“The Earth is a House of Stories” staged in UNI Art Gallery

“The Earth is a House of stories” os an exhibit dedicated to Indigenous and Native America artwork in the UNI Art Gallery.

NICK BAUR

Following on the heels of the University of Northern Iowa and Meskwaki Tribal Council public celebration on August 24th, the University of Northern Iowa Gallery of Art opened its doors to art enthusiasts and laymen alike for its exhibition of Native and Indeginous Art titled “The Earth Is a House of Stories”. Derived from Pulitzer Prize winning poet and novelist, N. Scott Momaday’s (Kiowa) book, “Earth Keeper: Reflections on the American Land.”, the exhibition in the Mary Haskell-Hansen Room of the Gallery.spotlights artwork by historical and contemporary Native and Indegenious artists from the UNI permanent Art Collection, the UNI Museum, and the surrounding community.

Co-curated by Angela Waseskuk and Art Gallery Director Darrell Taylor, “The Earth Is a House of Stories” includes selected artwork from George Longfish (Seneca/Tuscarora), Jaune Quick-to-See Smith (Salish/Kootenai), Duane Slick (Meskwaki), Percy Tsisete Sandy (Zuni), and Sheila Arch (Cherokee) as well as Maria Martinez (San Ildefonso Pueblo), Joe Campbell (Musqueam/Salish), Wendy Red Star (Crow), and Leonard YoungBear (Meskwaki). 

In terms of the methodology of curating the exhibit, Darrell Taylor spoke on the artistic process he and Angela Waseskuk undertook that brought the Native and Indengenous art exhibit to life, “Last spring, Angela approached me with an excellent idea, and we immediately began a conversation about what the presentation could be. At the start, we looked at large paintings by George Longfish and Jaune Quick-to-See Smith then we turned our attention to other artists like Duane Slick and Percy Tsisete Sandy. We agreed to pursue UNI Museum for other artworks then borrowed extensively within the community to fill out the show.”. In terms of University and public reception, Taylor was encouraged, stating, “The response so far has been very positive, and despite the ongoing pandemic attendance, numbers remain steady.”. 

The exhibition has become another installment of a larger, university-wide mission by the University of Northern Iowa to adopt a Land Stewardship Statement. Though having various connotations across cultures, a Land Stewardship Statement often consists of an overarching theme of institutions caring for a piece of land regardless of its ownership while taking into consideration ecological, economic, social, and cultural dimensions as they continue to build and honor respectful and nourishing partnerships with Native and Indengious groups.

If you have not stopped by the exhibit just yet to enjoy the enchanting Native and Indengenous art, do not fear as this collection will be available until September 25th. All events at the Gallery are free and open to the public. However, be prepared to wear a mask and socially-distance while in the Gallery. The Gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and by appointment. For more information visit https://gallery.uni.edu/ or contact the Gallery by phone at 319-273-3095 or email at: [email protected]