September 2, 2020
Written by Public Relations & Communications Strategist Jill Wilson
Augustana University has partnered with The Center for Western Studies (CWS) and Flandreau Indian School (FIS) to announce a new exhibit at the Washington Pavilion. To check out the exhibit opening, including Artists' Talks, Virtual Viewing and Discussion, click here for the Zoom link. This event will take place on Friday, Oct., 16 at 6:30 p.m.
The exhibit, “Re-presenting Native American Archival Histories,” is currently on display through November 30, 2020, in the Young Artists Gallery of the Visual Arts Center at the Washington Pavilion. Debuting on August 17, the exhibit features work from FIS and Augustana students who have curated and transformed archival materials from Augustana’s CWS into “re-presentations” of Native American history in South Dakota. These curatorial choices are taken from the photograph collections of Episcopal missionary Elizabeth Bradley, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) agent Harold Shunk and Blue Cloud Abbey.
CWS Collections Assistant Elizabeth Cisar said, “We had a discussion about how we have all of these Native American collections, but they are almost all exclusively made by white people. We don’t really have a lot of expression in the archives from their own perspective, which was the jumping off point for what would become this project.”
The FIS and Augustana students were led by Cisar, Assistant Professor of Sociology Dr. Carolyn Ly-Donovan and Assistant Professor of Art Anna Reich.
“I think a big part of teaching art to anyone in K-12 is making sure all of the decisions are theirs, but that you're asking the right questions so they’re thinking about the right things.” Reich added, “You’re not paving the way, but you’re paving all the ways.”
Ly-Donovan explained, “The students got to work in the art space, they participated in archival learning, and then they also learned some key analytic components from a sociological lens. Of course, no one is going to speak to them about their own experience, but instead, asking them why is this important for us to have a critical conversation in this sort of way, and what does it mean when there’s an institutional absence, a silence of this perspective, and here are the artistic things you should consider.”
The exhibit is funded by a Council for Independent Colleges (CIC) grant program. Augustana is among 25 CIC member institutions selected to participate in the inaugural cohort of Humanities Research for the Public Good. The initiative was created to demonstrate the power of the humanities to shed light on the past, to offer new insights into current issues, and to engage both students and members of the public in contemplating a better future. In this case, the initiative allowed for innovative methods in making university archives more accessible to the community.
Ly-Donovan and Reich hope to continue the public outreach aspect of the project. Through an art education major, the professors hope a miniature lesson plan can be developed for schools to utilize in the future — adapting the plan to what they have accessible at their schools to highlight a social issue that is most prevalent in their community.
For a list of students who are participating in the exhibition and exhibition hours, please visit the Washington Pavilion website.