Media, heritage mix in show, Durango Herald, February 10, 2009

I am hoping through research and experimentation to glean some understanding of our own tribally specific painting traditions.
– Artist America Meredith

Review
“From the Woodlands,” paintings, drawings and prints by America Meredith and Sallyann Paschall, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday-Friday, through Feb. 27, Fort Lewis College Art Gallery, 247-7167

Swedish-Cherokee

America Meredith’s “Wingspan” is acrylic on hardboard.
All photos by LEANNE GOEBEL/Photos special to the Herald


Swedish and Cherokee heritage blend in the work of two Santa Fe-based artists now on display at the Fort Lewis College Art Gallery. Yes, Swedish and Cherokee.

The work, primarily painting and mixed media, layers not only vastly differing cultures and languages, but shares a breadth of art-making techniques including linocut, intaglio, monoprint, acrylic paint on differing surfaces, watercolor, gouache and encaustic. Prices
range from $200 to $2,400.

Artist America Meredith is a hereditary member of Aniwodi, the Red Paint Clan. Meredith’s work is influenced by Pop Art and imagery from ’60s cartoons like “The Pink Panther.” Her style isn’t easy to pin down, and a broad range of imagery from the surrealistic to Arts & Crafts is found on the walls.

America Meredith’s acrylic on pine painting “Ahalugisdi Unole (To Quietthe Wind)” is on display in
the “From the Woodlands” show at the Fort Lewis College Art Gallery through Feb. 27.

Elegant pen-and-ink drawings like “Kickingbird” and linocut prints of turtles, rabbits and fish are more traditional works. “Unohalid asoli Osda (To Hunt Well),” an acrylic painting on masonite with marble dust, evokes surrealism. There is humor in the serigraph of a teddy bear called “The Great Norman Mulberry Disaster,” and brilliant color and design in “Wingspan,”
a small, square, acrylic painting on hardboard.

Meredith writes on her Web site that she is “hoping through research and experimentation to glean some understanding of our own tribally specific painting traditions.” Acknowledging that current painting techniques of Cherokee and other Native American artists are borrowed from Europe, she quotes from Irish trader James Adair, who documented early Aboriginal Cherokee painting.

“Women found multiple uses for red mulberry. In addition to relying on the fruit for food, they wove the bark into floor and wall coverings. In 1715, a group of women made ‘a large carpet of mulberry bark for Queen Anne’ and ‘twelve small ones for her Counsellours.’ … Such ‘very handsome’ carpets,” wrote Adair, were painted with “images of those birds and beasts they are acquainted with” or depictions “of themselves, acting in their social and marital stations.”

Few beasts are seen in the show, but birds, butterflies and botanicals are prevalent in the work of Cherokee artist Sallyann Paschall. Paschall’s style is more elegant and consistent, her designs are graceful and her color palette is pleasing and accessible.

Sallyann Paschall’s “My Grandmother’s Mockingbird,” is mixed media.

The syllabary of the Cherokee language – that’s the set of written signs in a language that
uses syllabic rather than alphabetic writing – figures prominently in both women’s work and
is the strongest imagery unique to their tribe.

“Trail of Tears” by Sallyann Paschall is oil on panel

“From the Woodlands” is a multicultural, multi-ethnic, generational look at art. It is art that
looks back at ancient traditions, forward to what can be made now by women with
contemporary life experience and that draws on long sidelong glances at the diversity with
each woman’s experience, their individual Swedish roots. And the work of both artists is
beautifully executed with attention to detail.

artsjournalist@mac.comLeanne Goebel is a member of the International Association of Art
Critics.

Contents copyright ©, the Durango Herald. All rights reserved.

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