2020/2021 Friends Lecture Series

“Indigenous Photography: The importance of Self Representation in the Native American Community.”

May 13, 2021 11:00 am

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Ticket Price: Free

Join us as artist Cara Romero presents our May lecture.

“My greater intention is to create critical visibility for modern Natives, to get away from that one-story narrative, and to dig into our multiple identities.  Our stories are entrenched in our ancestry, and traditional ways of knowing, and how they manifest today, that’s what’s important to me.”  – Cara Romero

Cara Romero, a Chemehuevi artist from Santa Fe, New Mexico, known for her dramatic digital photography that examines Indigenous life through a contemporary lens, is our Friends Lecture Series speaker for May.

Ms. Romero was born in Inglewood, California, and grew up between the rural Chemehuevi reservation in the Mojave Desert of California and the urban sprawl of Houston, Texas. Her identity informs her photography, a blend of fine art and editorial styles, shaped by years of study and a visceral approach to representing Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultural memory, collective history, and lived experiences from a Native American female perspective.

Romero has made an ongoing series of First American Girl portraits to examine past representations of Indigenous women as dolls and reclaim their Native identities. The portraits are of real Native American women, photographed in life-sized doll boxes and include personal accessories.

 

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Cara Romero gets away from that “one story narrative of Native Americans” with “Water Memory,” 2015 that is part of a series of photographs that talks about twin histories: The flooding of tribal lands to construct US dams; and the pumping of resources from Native soils, by extractive industries.  She is from a tribe that was flooded out of ancestral lands to create Lake Havasu, a reservoir on the Colorado River between Colorado and Arizona.  This series was pivotal for Romero because it brought her work to the attention of the Smithsonian.  After that, her art became an examination of things that were important to her- things that scared her, but she knew to be true.  She started working with female figures.  She wanted to break through the exploitative white male lens that had dominated Native American photography for over 100 years.

The National Museum of Indian Arts and Culture and the American Museum of Britain all hold her work in their collections.  She has won multiple first-place awards at the Santa Fe Indian Market.  In 2019, Ms. Romero was an artist in residence at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  In addition to her work as a photographer, Romero directs the Indigeneity Program at Bioneers, a nonprofit organization based in Santa Fe that is dedicated to climate change issues.

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Friends welcome celebrated writer, educator, and conservationist Terry Tempest Williams 

April 8, 2021 11:00 am

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Zoom

Ticket Price: Free

Join us for a reading and discussion led by Deborah Karasov of Great Plains Institute, a national policy organization for a net carbon future.

Terry Tempest Williams

Terry Tempest Williams, a naturalist and fierce advocate for freedom of speech has consistently shown us how environmental issues are social issues that ultimately become matters of justice. Williams, like her writing, can be hard to categorize. She has testified before Congress on women’s health issues, been a guest at the White House, has camped in the remote regions of Utah and Alaska and worked as a ‘barefoot artist’ in Rwanda.

Known for her impassioned and lyrical prose, Ms Williams is the author of several environmental classics including Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place, When Women Were Birds and The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of American’s National Parks in honor of the 100 year anniversary of the National Park Service. Her most recent book, Erosion: Essays of Undoing is a collection of wide-ranging essays that explore the many forms of erosion we face: of democracy, science, compassion, trust.

In 2006, Williams received the Robert Marshall Award from the Wilderness Society, their highest honor given to an American citizen. She has also received the Sierra Club’s John Muir Award honoring a distinguished record of leadership in American conservation, the 2017 Audubon New York Award for environmental writing, and a Guggenheim Fellowship in creative nonfiction, among others. In 2009, TTW was featured in a Ken Burns’ PBS series on the national parks. 

Ms Williams is currently writer-in-residence at the Harvard Divinity School and her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Orion Magazine and numerous anthologies worldwide as a crucial voice for ecological consciousness and social change.

In her words, “ I write about culture, I write about landscape, I write about public lands, I write about family. More than anything I hope that I’m writing about what it means to be human in a just society.”

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This event is a Friends Only Event. Join the Friends today and attend the event!

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In Discussion with Nell Irvin Painter: Historian and Artist

March 11, 2021 11:00 am

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Ticket Price: Free

Join us a for a engaging discussion with this prolific author, artist and scholar.

Nell Irvin Painter had a very successful career as a leading United States historian. She earned her doctorate in history from Harvard University and honorary degrees from Wesleyan, Dartmouth, SUNY-New Paltz and Yale. She taught for several decades at Princeton University and along the way became a noted and award-winning scholar, lecturer and author. Her recent books include “The History of White People” (2010), “Creating Black Americans: African American History and Its Meanings, 1619 to the Present” (2006) and “Southern History Across the Colored Line” (2002). 

When she retired from academia, Painter was the Edwards Professor of American History at Princeton University. She then bravely switched gears at the age of 67 and pursued a degree in studio art from Rutgers University and a Master in Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design. 

Nell Irvin Painter, the historian became Nell Painter, the artist. As Dr. Painter puts it, “After a life of historical truth and political engagement with American Society, my artwork represents freedom. Including the freedom to be totally self-centered.”

With her thesis project, “Art History According to Nell Painter,” she used collage to take images of figures from black history, attaching bold and abstract patterns and distorting them with digital photo manipulation tools and text – thus converging art with history. Self-portraiture is central to Painter’s art. Using found images and digital manipulation, she re-envisions herself through self portraits. Mia owns Painter’s “You Say This Can’t Really Be America” 2017, Color inkjet print with screen printing on paper.

Since embarking on her artistic career, Painter has garnered shows, fellowships and residencies. In January 2020, Painter was appointed Chair of the MacDowell Board of Directors. Located in Peterborough NH, MacDowell is one of the country’s leading contemporary arts organizations. MacDowell awards more than 300 competitive Fellowships working in seven disciplines each year. Painter herself is a two-time MacDowell Fellow, in 2016 and 2019.

Nell Irvin Painter, scholar and artist, is a shining example of, “It’s never too late.”

Reserve your tickets online, or by calling 612-870-3000.

April is Environment Awareness Month so make sure to save the date for the Friends April 8th Lecture, “A Morning Conversation with Terry Tempest Williams”

This event is a Friends Only Event. Join the Friends today and attend the event!

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December Friends Lecture

December 10, 2020 11:00 am

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Zoom

Ticket Price: Free

The December lecture features architect Sam Olbekson

In the Anishinaabe language, there is no word for “architecture” or even “art” because they believe that art, beauty, function are not separate concepts but interwoven into daily life. In other words, everything is related.

Sam Olbekson is Principal of Native American Design at the national architectural firm Cunningham Group and founder of Full Circle Indigenous Planning. He has spent more than 20 years working with Native American clients on culturally significant planning and design. Sam brings the perspective of a member of the White Earth Nation of Ojibwe who grew up in Native communities. The Anishinaabe are a culturally related indigenous people and the Ojibwe are a specific Anishinaabe nation.

As a youth with a strong interest in art and social issues, Olbekson’s Native American mentor encouraged him to consider architecture, believing it may be a way to contribute to Native culture and community building. An Ojibwe language teacher gave him the Ojibwe phrase to describe his profession that translates to, “I draw the houses, the ones that will be built, for my work.”

Olbekson often reconciles dualities. For example, he was the lead architect for the $110 million casino and hotel in the Cherokee River Valley that will have a lasting impression of the region on millions of visitors for years to come. A typical casino with Native looking symbols doesn’t honor anything so Olbekson tried to find form and aesthetics in deeper cultural places. He connected the mountain landscape and sense of place with the excitement a casino is meant to evoke, while honoring the Cherokee culture. His goal is to help Native communities in their economic development projects to ensure design and planning is done in a culturally appropriate way. 

Olbekson has worked on many economic growth and community building projects. Among them is the decade-long ongoing development of the American Indian Cultural Corridor that has transformed a decaying neighborhood into a safe and vibrant cultural destination with Native housing, stores, eateries and art galleries. Take Migizi Communications, a 40-year-old nonprofit organization that nurtures the development of Native American youth and is full of the energy, hope and spirit of the community’s future. Olbekson was a graduate of the program himself. The organization recently purchased and renovated a small building after a long capital campaign. Olbekson “was honored to design the space as a pro bono effort to say thank you for the personal impact they had on me as a youth.” 

Unfortunately, a fire destroyed the building that was located a block from the 3rd Precinct police station during the protests and ensuing destruction over George Floyd’s death. It was a sad and devastating loss, but the community is determined to rebuild. 

As they and other businesses in the Twin Cities rebuild, what should be on the forefront as architects and designers reimagine their communities? How can buildings and neighborhoods be designed to encourage equity, celebrate cultural identity, honor diversity while challenging divisive structural systems? Perhaps the word “placemaker” fits here. A placemaker works on the creation of quality public spaces that contribute to the health and well-being of the community. This architect sees his role as placemaker with a vision for an equitable and just future.

Reserve your tickets online, or by calling 612-870-3000.

Save the date for January lecture

January 14, 2021 11:00 am

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Zoom

Ticket Price: Free

Kick-Off the New Year with a Friends Lecture! 

Dr. Katherine Luber, Executive Director of Mia, will present “Beyond Durer: Becoming a Museum Director,” introducing attendees to Albrecht Dürer, the artist who was the subject of her dissertation.  Tickets are available to Friends members on December 15, and to the general public on December 17. Reserve online, or by calling 612-870-3000. 

Friends Lecture Series

November 12, 2020 11:00 am

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Zoom

Ticket Price: Free

Threat and Response: Saving the World’s Manuscript Heritage from Imminent Danger

Father Columbia Stewart, Director of the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library will give the Friends November Lecture. 

Violent extremism, sectarian conflict, and the relentless pressures of globalization are destroying the written sources of human civilization. Hear how the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (HMML) is responding to these threats. HMML is the only institution in the world exclusively dedicated to the photographic preservation and study of manuscripts, with a particular emphasis on manuscripts located in places where war, security, or economic conditions pose a threat. HMML is making a critical impact in these preservation efforts around the world, including the Middle East, Ethiopia, South Asia, and the former Soviet Union—all areas that are rich in ancient cultures, yet currently torn by political instability and lack of resources. 

Father Columba Stewart, a Benedictine monk and Executive Director of the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, will talk about his team’s work digitally preserving manuscripts of diverse world cultures and religions at risk of being destroyed by war, disaster, looting, and neglect. 

Since its founding in 1965, HMML has worked with libraries in more than 20 countries to photograph historic manuscripts in dozens of languages. Some of the original manuscripts were later destroyed, stolen, lost, or moved for safekeeping. The library now holds the largest online collection of manuscripts in the world and makes them available on the vHMML Reading Room, an online environment for manuscript studies.

Upon becoming Executive Director of HMML in 2003, Father Columba embarked upon extensive travels throughout the world to establish working relationships with communities possessing manuscript collections dating from the early medieval period to modern times. Since then, HMML has digitized manuscripts from some of the world’s most dangerous and inaccessible places. Father Columba and his team accomplish this by working with local leaders to photograph manuscripts, “to ensure that their deposits of wisdom, their libraries of handwritten texts, the voices of their past, can join the global conversations of the digital era.” Father Columba has said, “We don’t always know trouble is coming, but we have a history of being there just in time.  People can say it’s serendipity, but I believe in providence.”     

A graduate of Harvard, Yale and Oxford Universities, Father Columba has written extensively on his research of early Christian monasticism. In 1981, he joined the Benedictines, the order that built libraries in the Middle Ages, preserving and reproducing Bibles and other religious and philosophical texts by hand. He is the recipient of numerous awards, grants, and fellowships. Most recently, he was the first Minnesotan invited to give the 2019 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the highest honor the federal government bestows for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities.

 A Mark and Mary Goff Fiterman lecture.

  

Friends Lecture Series: Father Columba Stewart

November 12, 2020 11:00 am

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Zoom

Ticket Price: Free

Learn about the preservation work of ancient manuscripts around the world at risk of being destroyed by war, disaster, looting and neglect. 

Please join us for a fascinating lecture by Father Columba Stewart, Benedictine monk and Executive Director of the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (HMML) at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota. Fr. Steward will talk about his team’s work digitally preserving ancient manuscripts of diverse world cultures and religions at risk of being destroyed by war, disaster, looting, and neglect. 

Since its founding in 1965, HMML has worked with libraries in more than 20 countries to photograph historic manuscripts in dozens of languages. Some of the original manuscripts were later destroyed, stolen, lost, or moved for safekeeping. The library now holds the largest on-line collection of manuscripts in the world and makes them available on vHMML Reading Room, an on-line environment for manuscript studies.

Upon becoming Executive Director of HMML in 2003, Father Columba embarked upon extensive travels throughout the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and India to establish working relationships with communities possessing manuscript collections dating from the early medieval period to modern times. Since then, HMML has digitized manuscripts from some of the world’s most dangerous and inaccessible places. Father Columba and his team accomplish this by working with local leaders to photograph manuscripts, “to ensure that their deposits of wisdom, their libraries of handwritten texts, the voices of their past, can join the global conversations of the digital era.”  

Tickets are available October 15 for Friends members and October 17 for the general public. Please visit https://ticket.artsmia.org/ or call 612-870-3000 to reserve.