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“Cowgirls and Indians” Artist Sarah Sense

“Cowgirls and Indians” Artist Sarah Sense
Date: Wednesday, February 27, 2019 GMT-0500
Time: 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Location: Urban Shaman Gallery
Address: 203-290 McDermot Ave
City/Province: Winnipeg, MB

Dates: Friday, February 1, 2019 to Saturday March 16, 2019
Opening Reception: Friday, February 1, 2019 from 8pm to 11pm 
(Doors open to the public for First Fridays at 5pm)
Location: Main Gallery & Marvin Francis Media Gallery

Artist Talk Dates and Locations:

Where: Manitoba Craft Council | C2 Centre for Craft Shop, 1 – 329 Cumberland Avenue, Winnipeg, MB
Workshop runs: Saturday, January 26th, 1:00 – 4:00pm
Registration Deadline: January 17
Register here:

MAWA First Friday Talk: Friday, February 1, 2019 from 12pm to 1pm
611 Main Street, Winnipeg, MB

Artist Statement
Weaving photographs is my visual art practice; with photographic processes and cut paper, I have taught myself a weaving tradition of Chitimacha basket techniques, creating both flat mats and baskets to make social and political statements. Cowgirls and Indians is a fresh interpretation of a fourteen-year-old project, layering images from my collection, including: family photographs, Hollywood posters, antique posters, wild west show imagery, my Choctaw grandmother’s memoirs, Chitimacha landscapes, and my two personas: Cowgirl and Indian Princess. This body of work was originally explored in 2004, but with the recent American political landscape, I have found a new relevance with the imagery, questioning uses and misuses of cowboys, Indians, guns, women being taken and stereotyping.

The landscape photography featured in each piece is of Bayou Teche, the main water fixture on the Chitimacha reservation. The bayou and surrounding waters are home to cypress trees. The roots to these mysterious swamp trees grow into the earth under the water and then back up to breathe oxygen through the root, delicately balancing life with water, air and earth. This past December, I was taken on a fishing boat into a cypress swamp to capture the landscape images featured in this series. The Chitimacha basket weaving of the photographs gently reveal patterns from both Chitimacha and Choctaw baskets in my personal collection. Patterning morphs and changes into abstraction to push imagery forward and backward, creating a dialogue between the bayou landscapes and figurative photographs. Handwritten text on some landscapes are my grandmother’s memoirs re-written in ink by me. Her memoirs tell stories of what it was like to grow up in southeast United States in the early 20th century. The serene landscapes against these words reveal the timelessness of the landscape as it remains a part of the reservation and history. Mixing images with stories of struggle give a glimpse into a realistic history, symbolizing connections to land and the relevance of cultural preservation through protection and respect of land. Weaving these landscapes together with brightly contrasting Hollywood and pop culture imagery representing stereotypes of Native North America, questions the misconceptions of differing realities.

Like photographs, stories are a recorded history, merging time and memory repeatedly both orally and visually. I use posters and personas to explore American popular culture’s stereotypes of Native North America in Hollywood cinema, fashion trends and pop icons. Cowboy and Indian iconography are deeply rooted in America without recognition of the real history or the consequences of stereotypes. These generalizations are detrimental to the collective community and to the individual. Cowgirls and Indians explores these questions of identity, and the influence of imagery on global consciousness.

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About The Author

Event Submission

MUSKRAT Magazine is an on-line Indigenous arts, culture, and living magazine that honours the connection between humans and our traditional ecological knowledge by exhibiting original works and critical commentary.

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