The 2019 Sharing Blankets exhibition was a truly special experience for all who attended. The audience was deeply engaged as each artist shared the ideas behind their work and a rich discussion was shared about the blanket, family, loss, and birth.
Exhibition Goals : The gathering aims to generate a discussion on the significance of the blanket as symbol in contemporary Northwest Native culture. Each artist will created a new piece of artwork for this gathering that is inspired by the concept of the blanket. This artwork was displayed within the Longhouse around the wash which contains soil from various sacred sites in the Northwest.
Date : Saturday, May 25, 2019 (past) Location : The Nez Perce Wallowa Homeland Longhouse The Homeland’s mission is to provide and care for a place where descendants of indigenous people and inhabitants of the Wallowa Valley can build relationships and celebrate indigenous customs and culture. The Visitors Center features the history Wallowa valley. Learn more
This is the first year for this Gathering and we hope to hold another in 2020
Britt, Celeste, Paige, Roquin, and Joe's prints
The 2019 exhibition
The Exhibition will take place in the Longhouse (completed in 2016). It is committed to the practice of traditions native to the people of the Columbia River Plateau.
How has our shared understanding of the blanket as symbol changed through time? Below is an examination of this question as it applies to the Plateau tribes of the Pacific Northwest. ——————————————— This gathering features the blanket as an art object and shares the ideas of individual makers. Within this forum, we hope to build community and connection around a shared symbol.
Before the influence of European culture, the tribes of this region valued an art object’s benefit to the group above the ideas of the maker - the reverse of what is described above. ——————————————— Questions that will continue to be explored: How does the significance of the blanket change as the blanket ages? If it begins as a gift representing a social bond and then becomes a saddle blanket, does it still carry the original meaning?
How do blankets connect us to our loved ones who have past away? What role do they play in burial and remembrance?
When blankets are shown in the context of a Museum, how does that change our relationship to them and their history? ——————————————— The blanket described in the well-known quote below was a source of warmth, protection, and life. It has represented personal or tribal identity and relationships between people and groups.
“Tell General Howard I know his heart. What he told me before, I have it in my heart. I am tired of fighting. Our Chiefs are killed; Looking Glass is dead, Ta Hool Hool Shute is dead. The old men are all dead. It is the young men who say yes or no. He who led on the young men is dead. It is cold, and we have no blankets; the little children are freezing to death. My people, some of them, have run away to the hills, and have no blankets, no food. No one knows where they are — perhaps freezing to death. I want to have time to look for my children, and see how many of them I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead. Hear me, my Chiefs! I am tired; my heart is sick and sad. From where the Sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.” Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce ——————————————— Resources that have informed this exhibition,
Language of the Robe : American Indian Trade Blankets. Robert W. Kapoun & Charles J. Lohrmann. 1997.
Native Arts of the Columbia Plateau, The Doris Swayze Bounds Collection. Edited by Susan E. Harless. 1998.
Peoples of the Plateau, The Indian Photographs of Lee Moorhouse, 1898-1915. Steven L. Grafe. 2005.
Plateau Indians and the Quest for Spiritual Power, 1700-1850. Larry Cebula. 2003.
Plateau Indian Ways with Words, The Rhetorical Tradition of the Tribes of the Inland Pacific Northwest. Barbara Monroe. 2014.
Prophetic Worlds, Indians and Whites on the Columbia Plateau. Christopher L. Miller. 1985.
The Native Americans, the Indigenous People of North America. Colin F. Taylor & William C. Sturtevant. 1991.
Jim Ballard, full face / A. Thomas, Ross Fork, Bingham Co., Id. Pacific, 1905. Photograph. https://www.loc.gov/item/2018648395/.
Each participating artists brings identities and histories of their own. Here we share our connections to tribes and ancestors.
Joe Feddersen is a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation with family roots in the Okanagan and Sinixit people.
Britt Rynearson is also member of the Colville Tribe in Washington State with family ties to the non-treaty Nez Perce and the Yakama Nation. The Colville reservation is home to twelve tribes: Colville, Nespelem, Entiat, Wenatchi, Chelan, San Poil, Arrow Lakes Band or Sinixit, Sinkuise-Columbia, Methow, Nez Perce, Palouse, and Okanagan.
Celeste Whitewolf if a descendent of the Cayuse and Nez Perce people and a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla. On the Umatilla reservation live members with Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla heritage as well as some Tenino, Yakima, and Nez Perce.
Paige Pettibon is Salish of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Nation in Montana and a descendant of the DuCharme and Paublo family. She works with the Puyallup Language Department to help grow the Lushootseed language. Flathead Reservation is home to the Bitterroot Salish, Kootenai, and Pend d'Oreille tribes
Roquin-Jon Siongco is of CHamoru / Chamorro ancestry from the island of Guahan (aka Guam). Their weaving and basketry methods are inspired by their lineage to Låguas yan Gåni (aka The Mariana Islands) and the Salish people of the Northwest Coast.
The people of the Plateau region did not organize themselves into the tribes shown on this map until after the arrival of the horse (circa 1700 CE). By the time of white contact (early 1800’s), the groups shown here had formed. By the 1870’s white people were settling in the Wallowa Valley.
Artist : Joe Feddersen
Joe Feddersen is inspired by the traditional patterns and motifs from the native people of the Plateau region and pairs them with symbols from modern, urban space. Weaving these motifs and symbols, he maintains ties to his historical identity while utilizing forms of the contemporary world.
His work utilizes printmaking, collage, and glass. Past projects have generally referenced blankets through design, but with pieces such as Cheif’s Blanket #17 (1992) and Okanagan IV (2003), his work identifies blankets more specifically.
His solo exhibition in 2009, Vital Signs, traveled from the Tacoma Art Museum, WA to the Missoula Art Museum, MT, and then the Hallie Ford Museum, OR.
Learn more about his work and exhibitions at Froelick Gallery located in Portland, OR
Cultural Abstractions at the Umpqua Valley Arts Center (March, 2018) Roseburg, OR
Artist : Britt Rynearson
As I deepen my study of the northwest Plateau tribes and their religion, I see a connection to my passion for incorporating the unpredictable and the unknown into my artwork. I see a connection between creation inspired by the spirit world and creation influenced by the unpredicted or unknown. The Plateau tribes believe that artistic forms and technological innovation are inspired by the spirit world. The arashi shibori process I use dictates a level of uncertainty and lack of control. Cloth is bound around a pole, and undergoes days of dye and heat before being unwrapped to reveal it’s form and color.
In my drawing and textile repeat of the street layout in the slums of Kinshasa in the D.O.C., I saw in the unplanned urban growth that same organic irregularity that I find on the surface of the waters of Puget Sound. These human-made marks drew me in as I learned more about life in these slums and the invisibility of the people living there.
In a short film about the impact of the Grand Coulee Dam on the Colville Indians, Lucy Covington described feeling powerless and invisible when advocating for the Tribe’s rights and basic needs (The Price We Paid, 1977). A person being made to feel invisible drives my current curatorial and creative work. I am working to amplify the voices of Native artists, especially those from the region of my ancestors.
The blanket shown here began as flat, white silk and took shape using dye and pleating methods developed in Japan 150 years ago
This tunic took it’s shape from a series of drawings I made of traditional asian garments recorded by Max Tilke in the early 20th century (silk organza, dyed, gold and silver leaf hand applied, burned)
A Thin Shield (dyed, burned silk and gold leaf pressed between glass)
Feather Shawl (hand pleated and dyed silk, using arashi shibori)
screen printed map of the slums of Kinshasa, pleated cloth
the drawing of the entire city of Kinshasa from which I drew out certain portions using Illustrator and created a textile repeat
Artist : Celeste Whitewolf
Blankets wrap a child immediately after birth. The work created for this exhibition emphasizes the importance of blankets at a Native person’s death. This piece is a Funeral Blanket that will wrap my body as I am buried pursuant to my Washut religious practices.
Funeral blankets are the blankets wrapped around a deceased person’s body. The Washut religion is a modern or current religion that initially began with the Seven Feathers religion. It is practiced generally at the Umatilla, Warm Springs and Yakima Indian reservations.
After the deceased person is “dressed” in her/his burial regalia, they are wrapped in blankets. The blankets are donated by family members, friends, and organizations as their “Honoring” of the deceased person. If the casket is filled and with no more space for more blankets, the blankets are placed on top of the caskets. They are all buried with the loved one.
The top of the blanket represents events of my childhood that I recall. The images are appliquéd on the fabric. For example, it includes a small tricycle that I rode, a clothes line where I hung the cloth diapers of my siblings, potato and berry fields where I babysat my siblings or picked the product to make money for the family. The adult section reflects my legal education/law practice, breast cancer treatment, business travel across the United States and relationships with my four husbands! The final elder section reflects my interest in weaving, teaching and recreational travel.
~ Celeste Whitewolf
2019 Sharing Blankets exhibition
Celeste’s funerary blanket with cedar hat form and family tree on leather
2019 Sharing Blankets exhibition
Celeste’s childhood tricycle
The Artist in her regalia
Cedar hat with beadwork
I participate in my indigenous and art communities, and and use my strengths to better those communities. It is important for me to learn my culture, strengthen my practice, and help pass on traditional teachings. My practice is successful at sharing indigenous through my art work, which includes: beading, weaving, sewing, painting, drawing, and jewelry design.
For this exhibition, I incorporated Native aesthetics by using coast Salish basketry symbols and shapes. My techniques include quilting, applique and hand stitch embroidery. I designed my own fabric patterns to execute the Northwest Native identity of my blanket. The color theme for my blanket is traditional neutrals with contemporary yellows, peaches and blues.
~ Paige Pettibon
2019 Sharing Blankets exhibition
An excerpt of Paige’s artist talk
Artist : Roquin-Jon Siongco
Roquin-Jon Q. Siongco (They/He)
Roquin contributes to the Indigenous creative and cultural continuum through inventive multi-media expression, beginning with mámamfok: CHamoru palm weaving. Relocating to the Salish Sea, they began to explore other forms of expression, including poetry, floral design, and various fibre arts, as well as explore multidimensional identity and experience as a Indigenous/Pasifika Queer person.
Acknowledging the colonial imposing binaries of traditional v. contemporary, art v. craft, form v. function, Roquin creates work that defies simplistic definitions and challenges the toxic and arbitrary box of authenticity. Their work expands the realities in which dominant society has placed in the margins of margins.
Roquin is currently studying at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. They hope to pursue a graduate degree in ethnobotany and return to Guåhan to engage in the on-going de-colonial/re-indigenizing movement by means of non-profit food sovereignty and artistic engagement with the environment.
You can reach them via email @firstname.lastname@example.org Follow their journey @Rockin_Roquin on instagram
2019 Sharing Blankets exhibition
a woven blanket in honor of Roquin’s grandmother
Funders and Partners
Thank you to all people and organizations of people who have provided support for this exhibition
Individual donors: Anonymous Annie and Steve Schwager Arick and Katya Rynearson Blair Rynearson Bob and Kathy Haynes Claire McKinney Claudia Bach Deborah and Ralph Cheadle Elena Korakinatou Erica and Braden Speed Gail Wham Gloria Sinclair Hannah and Dan Dominguez Hannah Morgan Holly Sauro Jackie and Skip Kotkins Jeremy Tags Tarpey Jeanne and Ed DeRaeve Jill Keeney Jim and Jean Rynearson Joan and Ted Rynearson Jud Hart Julianne Paschkis Katherine and Steve Tagtmeier Kim Colaprete Kristen and Larry Liang KT Niehoff Laird Patterson Louie Gong Marie and Jamie Jamieson Marybeth and Jerry Saterlee Melody and Brian Kadlub-Barr Miller Leonard Nancy Maisano Osiris Navarro Peggy and Bob Wilkerson Rachel and Enrico Wang Martinez Rocky Salskov Rose Tatlow Sabrina Seward Spafford Robbins Steve and Patsy Larson Susan Detweiler Suzanne and Tim Hagin Tamara Adlin Timothy Siciliano