These 5 Inspirational Native Women Create Art That Celebrates Their Heritage Here In Minnesota

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These 5 Inspirational Native Women Create Art That Celebrates Their Heritage Here In Minnesota

You’ll be inspired by these five creative and unique artists.

The recognition of Native art has long been overdue, especially in Minnesota, where the roots of Indigenous tribes run deep. Minneapolis recently saw its first show dedicated to Native American work and artifacts in a 2019 show called the Heart Of Our People: Native Women Artists, at the Minneapolis Museum of Art (Mia). This exhibit is, hopefully, just the start to the art world  appreciating more diverse artists who tell their truths through their work. In honor of Woman’s History Month (which is in March!), we want to highlight five indigenous women creating art that draws from their heritage and gives back to their community.

1. Dyani White Hawk (Sičáŋǧu Lakota)

Dyani White Hawk works in Minneapolis as an independent curator and multimedia artist. White Hawk’s work primarily focuses on women’s rights, Indigenous language, and nurturing cross-cultural relationships. In White Hawk’s artist statement, she says, “I strive to create honest, inclusive works that draw from the breadth of my life experiences, Native and non-Native, urban, academic, and cultural education systems.”

Her latest exhibit, Speaking to Relatives will cover 10 years of mixed-media art (video, photography, sculpture, and painting) at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art.  The exhibit is described as “a unique merging of the visual language of abstraction with Lakota art forms.” She blends techniques used in the 1950s in correlation with Native visual history to create a unique blend that speaks to her Native American lineage, and how that fits into the contemporary community she’s surrounded by. Speaking to Relatives will be showing from now until May 16th. Tickets are free but need to be reserved

2. Diane Wilson

via facebook / diane.wilson

Diane Wilson is a half Dakota, half French-Canadian, and is the author of a new book titled, The Seed Keeper. The anticipated release details the story of a young girl, Marie Blackbird and her family during the aftermath of the Dakota War of 1862, in which the Dakota tribe was expelled from Minnesota. In collaboration with the All My Relations Arts exhibit, Wilson will be the head feature of Seed Stories, one of the events in Seed Week, that runs from March 8th to March 27th. During this time, Wilson, for her book launch, will be hosting an exhibition celebrating her work alongside Holly Young, the artist behind her book cover, and Xavier Tavera, a Latinx photographer. Together, they’ll discuss the importance and nuances of a ‘seed’ being a source of food and as “relatives.”

3. Julie Buffalohead

Julie Buffalohead is a Minnesota-based artist whose work focuses on describing Indian narratives through metaphor and her own experiences. Most often, this is done through anthropomorphic animals that combines the mythical with real emotions and circumstances. She adopts characters from Native storytelling–the trickster, for example–and implies these characters through her narratives. Her latest exhibit was at the Denver Museum of Art up through 2019. She’s exhibited in Minnesota, Colorado, New York, California, and more throughout her career as an artist.

4. Moira (pronounced Mee-Ree) Villiard

via artbymoira.com

We were first made aware of Moira Villiard’s work from her latest community project, Illuminate the Lock, in which she was the visual artist behind an audio-visual projection piece that spanned across the St. Anthony Fall’s lock wall and celebrated Indigenous culture. She works as a freelance artist, community organizer, and consultant in Duluth.

Her art practice centers around creating connections with her ancestry to share positive impact for future generations. When asked about how her creative work is linked to her identity, she said “…I grew up on the rez in Greater Minnesota as the child of two enrollees, but I myself am not enrolled, so I’m always thinking about ways I can evoke nuance in identity and include teachings that have helped me in my own understanding of who I am and where I come from.”

5. Dakota Hoska

courtesy of Dakota Hoska

Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists, is the first exhibit to showcase the multitude of art created by Native American woman throughout the years. Dakota Hoska’s work was among one of the talented artists’ exhibited. She also had a hand in curating it. Her work focuses on personal experiences, though her Native heritage threads through her portfolio. Her paintings are studies in every day beauty, with color playing a vital role in how she presents her worldview in her work. She’s since moved to Colorado where she continues to create. 


[featured image courtesy of Moira Villiard]