Colorado State University to Exhibit Work of Contemporary Native American Artists Beginning November 30

Colorado State University’s Lory Student Center will open a new exhibition of work by contemporary Native American artists on Nov. 30 in the Center’s Duhesa Lounge Gallery, located on the second level. The exhibition’s opening reception is the final scheduled event in this year’s Native American Awareness Month.

The exhibit highlights work by five contemporary Native American artists, including jewelry by Fernando Benally of Gallup, New Mexico, and basket weavings by Linda Aguilar of Fort Collins. The work of sculptors Denny Haskew and Becky Olvera Schultz and a piece by Colorado State alumna Carole Grant will also be on display.

"Our goal in creating this exhibition for Colorado State is to demonstrate the vitality and diversity of artwork being created by Native American artists today," said Matthew Helmer, director of the LSC Arts Program. "Native American art is not something to be studied only in history books or through an examination of artifacts. There is much we can learn from living artists who celebrate cultural heritage through their current work."

An opening reception is planned from 4 – 6 p.m. and will feature an opportunity for visitors to speak with some of the featured artists about their work. A performance by the Ram Nation Drum Group is planned as part of the ceremony. The exhibit and the opening reception are free and open to the public.

The Duhesa Lounge Gallery was dedicated in 1986 to acknowledge the significance of the Native American heritage in this country, particularly in Colorado and the Southwest region, and to provide a permanent and prominent showcase for the artwork derived from this culture for the enjoyment and education of all who come to the Lory Student Center.

The current exhibition furthers this mission by focusing on the work of living artists, a departure from the historical focus of other exhibits in recent years.

Haskew’s sculpture has been described as intensely personal and honest. A member of the Potawatomi Citizen Nation, the Loveland, Colo. resident said his work is not limited to Native American subjects. "I begin with the human figure. Initially, I have no intention of creating an ‘Indian image,’ but sometimes the statement comes out stronger that way. Sometimes the opposite is true. Recently, I started to sculpt a Native figure, but it became something else. We’re all human beings inside. We’re all a mixture and will continue to mix until it no longer matters what type of figure is used as long as it makes the strongest statement possible."

Based in California, Olvera Schultz is known for her award-winning Native American portrait masks, one of which will be on display in the exhibit. Her masks are original artwork and not castings made from a model’s face, nor are the masks ceremonial. Hand-painted detail brings each mask to life, and the artist uses various materials such as real horse hair, turquoise and bone to adorn each piece.

Aguilar, a renowned basket maker, has previously displayed her creations in exhibitions at Colorado State and in this exhibit she shares several recently completed works. Well known for her beautifully detailed coiled horsehair baskets, Aguilar’s work is prized by collectors around the world – including the Smithsonian Institution of American Art.

This exhibition is co-sponsored by Campus Activities and Native American Student Services and will be on display through October 2006.  

For more information, please contact the LSC Arts Program through Campus Activities at (970) 491-6626. Additional background information on the featured artists and publicity photos are available to media outlets upon request.