The Creator has left the sky too low. We are going to have to do something about it, and how can we do that when we do not have a common language? ...We can all learn one word, that is all we need. That word is yəhaw̓ - that means to proceed, to go forward, to do it.

About yəhaw̓

yəhaw̓ is an open call exhibition celebrating the depth and diversity of Indigenous art made in the Pacific Northwest. All Indigenous creatives living in our region are invited to participate, and everyone who applies will have work included in the exhibition.

The title of the show, yəhaw̓, is drawn from the Coast Salish story of Native people from all tribes uniting around a common cause and lifting up the sky together. In the spirit of the story, this exhibition will be a collective portrait of Native America, including creatives of all ages and stages in their careers, from Urban and Reservation communities, working in contemporary and traditional materials, and in ways that may or may not be widely recognized as Native. And just as, historically, Indigenous makers seamlessly imbued utilitarian objects with spiritual and artistic meaning, we seek to challenge the false divide between craft and fine art, as well as high and low art, by equally valuing all objects as part of our cultural continuum.

The exhibition will also be accompanied by mentorship opportunities to support continued artistic development in the Indigenous community, and we hope that all exhibition participants will gain experience and exposure, and create sustaining relationships.

We are giving up curatorial control through the open call process to empower Native artisans to retake ownership of their representation. By creating an opportunity for the community to speak for itself through a wide range of individual and sometimes conflicting perspectives, we aim to unsettle assumptions and begin a critical new dialogue about what Native American art is and can be. We hope yəhaw̓ will reflect a nuanced, inclusive, and community-driven narrative that firmly establishes Native creatives as belonging in the here and now.

-Tracy Rector (Seminole/Choctaw), Asia Tail (Cherokee Nation), and Satpreet Kahlon


Programs and Projects

The yəhaw̓ exhibition opening at Seattle's King Street Station in January 2019 will feature the work of over 200 Indigenous creatives. The show will be accompanied by a mentorship training cohort, satellite shows, and partner programs throughout the region. Check our calendar for upcoming public events in our project series.

Mentorship

10 emerging artists were selected to participate in our training program to develop new work for the yəhaw̓ exhibition under the guidance of a mentor artist. Mentor artists - Ka'ila Farrell-Smith, Ryan Feddersen, and Roger Fernandes - will each work intensively with a small cohort of mentees in Portland, Tacoma, and Seattle respectively. The program will include group critiques and additional professional development activities. Mentors will also present on their artistic practice and answer audience questions during a public panel discussion event in fall 2018.

As an extension of the mentorship program, Artist Trust will provide 3 free professional development classes for yəhaw̓ creatives covering topics like: Artist Statements and Biographies, Resumes and Budgets, Applying for Grants, and Work Samples Dos and Don'ts. Allison Bishins Consulting will also teach a free class on Social Media Marketing. Cowlitz Tribal Health therapists will provide a class on healthy strategies for dealing with rejection through a cultural lens.

Satellite Exhibitions

yəhaw̓ artists will be featured in solo and group curations at the following venues in the fall and winter of 2018: Feast Arts Center in Tacoma, Alma Mater Tacoma, Vermillion Gallery in Seattle, Seattle Art Museum's Community Gallery, Suquamish Museum, Seattle University's Hedreen Gallery, and the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute in Seattle.

Art Markets

During the Tacoma Studio Tour October 13 and 14, Tacoma-based Indigenous artists will demonstrate and sell their work at Alma Mater in a range of media, including basketry, carving, beadwork, textiles, and more. 

yəhaw̓ artists will also share a booth as part of an outdoor pop-up art market presented by Artist Trust in partnership with Amazon on September 12 at the Amazon Van Vorst Plaza in South Lake Union. Featuring local artists showing and selling work, plus live performances and arts activities, this pop-up is part of Amazon’s programming for employees and the South Lake Union community. 

yəhaw̓ will have a table at Short Run Seattle November 3 with Indigenous artists selling zines and books.

Artist Residencies

The Seattle Public Library and yəhaw̓ will host a series of Indigenous artists in residence in fall 2018 - Native Kut (Pah-tu Pitt and Sean Gallagher), Fox Spears, and Roldy Aguero Ablao. The residents will each activate the right side of the 8th floor gallery in the library’s main branch for 3 weeks between October and November, including artwork displays, live-art making, and community engagement activities, all relating to themes of water and environmental justice. All of the artists will participate in a public panel discussion following the residency period to share their experiences working in the library.

The Seattle Public Library and yəhaw̓ will also host Indigenous artist Denise Emerson as curator in residence in fall 2018. The curator in residence will work closely with the yəhaw̓ curatorial team to organize and install an exhibition of Coast Salish art on the left side of the 8th floor gallery of the library’s main branch that will be displayed between October through December. 

In collaboration with the City of Seattle's Office of Arts and Culture, a yəhaw̓ artist will be selected as the first artist in residence for King Street Station, and will activate the glass-walled studio space in the gallery for the duration of the exhibition, January-May 2019.

Centrum will provide free lodging and studio space for selected yəhaw̓ artists in one-week mini-residencies at their Port Townsend facilities in winter of 2018.

Studio Space

yəhaw̓ is hosting monthly co-working sessions at Alma Mater in Tacoma on third Thursdays 6-10pm through the end of 2018. All Indigenous artists are welcome to come use the studio space for free on their own, or they can participate in group art activities led by guest artists.

We are partnering with Pratt Fine Arts in Seattle to give yəhaw̓ artists free access to their metalworking, printmaking, sculpture, wood, and all other studios with the exception of glass, through the end of the 2018. 

Commissions

Indigenous artists have been invited by the yəhaw̓ curatorial team to create commissioned artworks responding to the Lifting the Sky story for the exhibition space and on the plaza of King Street Station, accompanied by commissioned performative works that will debut at the opening celebration.

All yəhaw̓ artists will be paid a modest honorarium to acknowledge their time and their contribution to the show.

Special Projects

The yəhaw̓ team is working on a series of additional special projects, including an all-Indigenous fashion show, a curated poetry zine and reading event, the activation of King Street Station's plaza in conjunction with the Seattle Art Fair, and an installation as part of the University of Puget Sound's Race and Pedagogy Conference.


King Street Station

This show will be held in the newly renovated King Street Station in downtown Seattle. It is only appropriate that the inaugural exhibition in the newly minted community arts space honor and acknowledge the Indigenous communities on whose stolen land the building sits. For more information visit: www.seattle.gov/arts/king-street-station.


Curators

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Tracy Rector

Tracy Rector is a mixed race (Choctaw/Seminole) filmmaker, curator, community organizer, co-founder of Longhouse Media and a 2016 Stranger Genius. She has made more than 400 short films, and is currently in production of her fifth feature documentary. As co-producer of the award-winning film Teachings of the Tree People, producer of March Point, co-director of Clearwater, and director of Ch'aak' S'aagi; Rector has developed an awareness and sensitivity to the power of media and film as a modern storytelling tool. After years of galvanizing community and working in a directorial role, Rector has begun to transfer her method of storytelling to gallery exhibitions including RE:DEFINITION at the Paramount Theatre Gallery, YOU ARE ON INDIGENOUS LAND at Core Gallery, Women On the Brink at Vermillion Gallery, and BLOODLINES at Bridge Productions. 

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Asia Tail

Asia Tail is from Tacoma, Washington where she is currently based. Asia attended the Cooper Union School of Art in New York on a four-year full-tuition scholarship and graduated with a BFA and the Brandon Burns Stewart Memorial Prize for Excellence in Painting in 2014. Her work has recently been featured in NW Art Now @ TAM (formerly the Northwest Biennial), in Quota at SOIL Gallery in Seattle, and in the two-person show Moon Moan at 950 Gallery in Tacoma. As an extension of her art making practice, Asia also curates special projects and exhibitions, with an emphasis on empowering Indigenous artists. She is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.

 

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Satpreet Kahlon

Satpreet Kahlon is a multidisciplinary artist who is based in Seattle, WA + Providence, RI. Born in Punjab, India and raised in the Midwest, she is interested in creating visual language and immersive encounters that express and explore intersectional experiences as well as the structural systems of inequity that dictate their boundaries. In addition to her studio practice, which has been featured in Artforum, she curates with a philosophy of embedded equity at The Alice Gallery in Seattle, is the founder of Deep Space Gallery, and, between 2015 and 2017, she designed and taught social engagement programming in partnership with the Seattle Art Museum. She is currently studying at the Rhode Island School of Design, where she received a full fellowship to pursue her MFA in Sculpture.