The MacKenzie Art Gallery is very pleased to announce that the publication The Sioux Project—Tatanka Oyate, a groundbreaking examination of contemporary Sioux aesthetics led by artist Dana Claxton, is recipient of the 2022 Melva J. Dwyer Award. The award is presented annually by the Canada Chapter of the Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS) to the creators of exceptional reference or research tools relating to Canadian art and architecture. The award was presented at the Convocation of the Art Libraries Society in Chicago on April 7, 2022.
This publication was co-edited by Dana Claxton and Timothy Long, Head Curator at the MacKenzie, and co-published by Vancouver-based publishing house Information Office and the MacKenzie Art Gallery in 2021. The publication fills a major gap in our understanding of contemporary Sioux aesthetics in North America with a specific focus on the knowledge and practices of Lakota/Nakota/Dakota (Sioux) communities in Saskatchewan, Canada. The publication reflects over three years of on-the-ground research involving a team led by Lakota video/performance artist Dana Claxton, art historian Lynne Bell, artist Gwenda Yuzicappi, and filmmaker Cowboy Smithx. The video footage gathered over the course of multiple visits to Sioux communities across Saskatchewan formed the basis of Claxton’s four-channel video installation at the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina, Saskatchewan in 2017.
Texts by Bell, Smithx, and MacKenzie Head Curator Timothy Long, as well excerpts from video interviews with community participants, speak to the community-based methodology of this research-creation project and the significance of Claxton’s installation. Densely illustrated with stills and in-situ shots of the installation, the texts offer a moving community portrait of how the traditional knowledge of elders is being actively transmitted to and translated by a generation that is as comfortable with video mashups as they are with star quilts and beadwork. Produced for academic, artistic and broader communities, the publication includes a consideration of how Sioux aesthetics have been defined by communities and artists in North America, both historically and in the contemporary period in essays by scholars Janet Catherine Berlo and Carmen Robertson, with a reprint of the work of Dr. Bea Medicine. Former MacKenzie Art Gallery Executive Director & CEO, Anthony Kiendl noted, “The Sioux Project—Tatanka Oyate turns the perspective from colonial erasures to an affirmation of Indigenous self-determination.”
This catalogue is available for purchase at the MacKenzie Shop.
ABOUT THE AWARD
The Melva J. Dwyer Award was established in recognition of the contribution made to the field of art librarianship by Melva Dwyer, former head of the Fine Arts Library, University of British Columbia. It is given to the creators of exceptional reference or research tools relating to Canadian art and architecture.
Dana Claxton is a critically acclaimed artist who works in film, video, photography, single and multi-channel video installation, and performance art. Her practice investigates beauty, the body, the socio-political, and the spiritual. Her work has been shown internationally at the Museum of Modern Art (NYC), Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC), Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), Sundance Film Festival, Eiteljorg Museum (Indianapolis), and the Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney, Australia) and is held in public collections including the Vancouver Art Gallery, National Gallery of Canada, Canada Council Art Bank, MacKenzie Art Gallery, and the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Fringing the Cube, her solo survey exhibition, was held at the Vancouver Art Gallery in the fall of 2018. She has received numerous awards including the VIVA Award and the Eiteljorg Fellowship. She is Head and Associate Professor in the Department of Visual Art, Art History and Theory at the University of British Columbia. Her family reserve is Wood Mountain Lakota First Nation located in beautiful southwest Saskatchewan.
Timothy Long has thirty years of curatorial experience at the MacKenzie Art Gallery where he is Head Curator and Adjunct Professor at the University of Regina. His past projects have traced developments in Saskatchewan art from the 1960s to present, including Regina Clay: Worlds in the Making and retrospectives of Marilyn Levine, Jack Sures, David Thauberger, and Victor Cicansky. His pursuit of interdisciplinary dialogues involving art, sound, ceramics, film, and contemporary dance has resulted in a number of innovative projects, including Theatroclasm (2009), Ian Wallace: Masculin/Féminin (2010), and Atom Egoyan: Steenbeckett (2016). In 2018 he co-curated Re: Celebrating the Body, the latest in a series of exhibition/residencies with the acclaimed contemporary dance company New Dance Horizons.
Cowboy Smithx is an award winning filmmaker of Blackfoot ancestry from the Piikani and Kainai tribes of Southern Alberta, Canada. Cowboy is the founder and curator of the highly acclaimed international Indigenous speaker series “REDx Talks.” He also serves as the Artistic Director of the Iiniistsi Treaty Arts Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to activating the true spirit and intent of Treaty #7. Cowboy writes, directs, and produces film works in documentary, narrative, music video, and experimental formats. He is currently working in Indigenous education, cultural consultation, and youth work around the world. Cowboy has been featured as a keynote presenter at over 150 conferences, symposiums, and festivals across the globe. Cowboy facilitates dozens of interactive workshops for professionals, artists, youth, and elders. Cowboy is also the founder of the Elk Shadows Performing Arts Clan and the Noirfoot School For Cinematic Arts.
Lynne Bell is Professor Emeritus of the Social History of Art and Visual Cultures, University of Saskatchewan. Her publications include: “Unsettling Acts: Photography as Decolonizing Testimony in Centennial Memory,” in The Cultural Work of Photography in Canada (2011); and “Singing the Colonial Blues in the Settler Archive,” in Adrian Stimson: The Life and Times of Buffalo Boy (2014). She is co-editor of Decolonizing Testimony: On the Limits and Possibilities of Witnessing, a special issue of Humanities Research, Australia National University (2009).
Gwenda Yuzicappi in her own words, “I am a Dakota from the Standing Buffalo Dakota Nation. I was raised by Agnes Yuzicappi, my paternal grandmother, who lived to see her ninety-eighth birthday. I have three brothers (two deceased) and five sisters. My parents and grandmother are deceased. My late grandmother and father went to Residential School, which I also attended. I was nineteen when I started my family. I cherish Unci’s words of how important it is to attain my Education. I returned to school to complete my grade twelve and then my Bachelor of Indian Social Work in 1999. I have been employed within the same agency for twenty-two years. I have two sons and one daughter; Wicanhpi Duta Win, Redstar Woman, my only daughter, was Missing & Murdered in 2005 and I continue to share her story. I am a very proud grandmother, as I was gifted a beautiful granddaughter.
I am a proud Dakota and work with the grass roots to unite each Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota nation in Saskatchewan. I am honoured to be part of this project to gather youth, adults, and elders who exhibit their creativeness and skill through their artwork of Buffalo hide painting, drawings, beading moccasins, regalia-making, star blanket-making, porcupine earrings, shawl-making, drum-making, and singing songs from the Dakota, Nakota, and Lakota ancestry. I am very proud to be part of The Sioux Project and the publication of this book for everyone to read each one’s experience and to have in our homes, communities, and libraries.”
Janet Catherine Berlo, Professor of Art History and Visual and Cultural Studies at the University of Rochester, holds a PhD in history of art from Yale. She is the author of Native North American Art (with Ruth Phillips, Oxford, second edition 2015), Plains Indian Drawings 1865–1935 (1998), Spirit Beings and Sun Dancers: Black Hawk’s Vision of a Lakota World (2000), Arthur Amiotte: Collages 1988–2006 (2006), José Bedia: Transcultural Pilgrim (with Judith Bettelheim, Fowler Museum, UCLA, 2011) and many other publications on the Indigenous arts of the Americas. Her essays have been published in Third Text, Art History, Museum Anthropology, American Indian Art Magazine, and in exhibition catalogues of the National Museum of the American Indian, the Metropolitan Museum, the Peabody Essex Museum, the Eiteljorg Museum, and elsewhere. She has taught Native art history as a visiting professor at Harvard and Yale, and has received grants from the Guggenheim and Getty Foundations.
Carmen Robertson is a Scots-Lakota woman from Saskatchewan who is both an academic and an independent curator. She recently became the Tier I Canada Research Chair in North American Art and Material Culture at Carleton University, where her research centres on contemporary Indigenous arts. In 2016, she published both Norval Morrisseau: Art and Life (Art Canada Institute) and Mythologizing Norval Morrisseau: Art and the Colonial Narrative in the Canadian Media (UManitoba Press). Seeing Red: A History of Natives in Canadian Newspapers (UMP, 2011), which Robertson co-authored with Mark Cronlund Anderson, has elicited awards and favourable reviews. Her essay “Land and Beaded Identity: Shaping Art Histories of Indigenous Women of the Flatland,” in RACAR in 2017, is part of her ongoing investigation into the artistic contributions of Sioux artists on the prairies.
Dr. Beatrice (Bea) Medicine (1923–2005) was born on the Standing Rock Reservation, Wakpala, South Dakota. Bea or Hinsha Waste Agli Win (Returns-Victorious-with-a-Red-Horse-Woman) received her PhD from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Medicine taught in the United States and Canada, including Stanford University, Dartmouth College, San Francisco State University, University of Washington, University of Montana, and University of South Dakota. Medicine was active in civic matters that affect the rights of children, women, especially American Indians, LGBTQ, and Two-Spirited. She served as Head of the Women’s Branch of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples for the Canadian government, helping draft legislation to protect the legal rights of Native families. Medicine received many awards, honorary doctorates, distinguished alumna, fellowships, and citations. She was the Sacred Pipe Woman at the Sun Dance at Sitting Bull’s Camp in 1977. She served as an expert witness in several trials pertaining to the rights of American Indians, including the 1974 federal case brought against the individuals involved in the Wounded Knee occupation of 1973.