Youngbird makes her mark on local arts scene
FARGO - Laura Youngbird had a very busy start to 2016. The artist hosted a printmaking studio at the Plains Art Museum and last week opened a new show, "Manifestation," at the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County.That's her second show ...
FARGO - Laura Youngbird had a very busy start to 2016. The artist hosted a printmaking studio at the Plains Art Museum and last week opened a new show, "Manifestation," at the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County. That's her second show currently showing in Fargo -Moorhead. Her exhibit, "Common Thread," opened in October and is on display through Feb. 6 at the Plains. All of which is on top of her job overseeing Native American arts programming at the Plains, like this week's workshop with birch bark artist Pat Kruse and his artist's talk at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Youngbird's art often deals with her heritage - her mother comes from the Grand Portage Reservation in Minnesota and her father is of German and Polish descent from Wisconsin. She talked about the art she makes and her role with the Plains Art Museum. You have a show at the Plains Art Museum and another at the Cultural Society of Clay County. What is the difference between the two? The one at the Cultural Society of Clay County is part of their programming to talk about where history intersects art. My work deals with assimilation of native people and acculturation and those kind of things. There's an exhibit at the Hjemkomst called "Imprint of the West," prints from the 1800s that are a contrast to my work. It's very interesting, I think.
The show at the Plains, "Common Thread," uses fabric patterns and clothing as a recurring motif. Why did you choose that? It started a long time ago. My grandmother scratched her face out of all the pictures, but there are quite a few pictures of first communion or confirmation where she's wearing white dresses along with other children wearing white dresses and suits. The dress has evolved as a symbol for me, too. Sometimes it can be theater or masquerade or trying to be something you're not. In this case, they tried to make people something they weren't. (Catholicism was brought to the Grand Portage Reservation.) But there are good connotations too because my mother used to sew all of our clothes when we were little and it's such a beautiful thing to have something made for you. Why did your grandmother scratch her face out of photos? I don't know. I did the same thing in my yearbook. I crossed my face out and wrote "yuck" on it. I've seen other people do that, it's not something that's uncommon. It seems like it has to do with a sense of identity. That's what the assimilation policy was, to get rid of "the Indian problem." Even today there are people that don't think there are Indians around anymore. Or that we dance around fires. Lots of different, strange ideas. How have your views of fabric and clothes changed now that you're a mother? I'm a grandma. In a lot of different ways a garment can be for warmth or comfort or dressing up for a special occasion. There are a lot of different layers of meaning. Working with that particular theme has made me think of it a lot deeper. Why is it important for the Plains to have this focus on Native American art? (The Plains has) a large collection of contemporary native art work. There's kind of a misconception about what native art is. A lot of times there's a stereotype that you need to have something with an animal in it, or a feather. This is just helping with workshops and bringing awareness that there is a lot of contemporary native art. The Southwest is doing well, but we have a lot of talented artists in the Midwest as well. If you go What: "Common Thread" When: On display through Feb. 6 Where: Plains Art Museum, 704 1st Ave. N., Fargo Info: plainsart.org (701) 551-6100 If you go What: "Manifestation" When: On display through April 3 Where: Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County, 202 1st Ave. N., Moorhead Info: www.hcscconline.org (218) 299-5511