WORDS BY Tiffany Lukk
For the past three years, the Indigenous Art Showcase has served as a space for artists across North America—known to Indigenous people as Turtle Island—to present what it means to be Indigenous in this day and age through the lenses of life, politics, and history.
With “rising in our strength” as this year’s theme, 11 artists will present their art, from photographs of Indigenous people and daily life to abstracted pueblo pottery to two-dimensional work featuring Indigenous people and animals, and more.
Heather Friedli—an oil painter, competitive snow sculptor (see her in action on the Disney reality show, Best in Snow, on Nov. 18), and owner of the gallery—has been involved with the showcase since its inception in 2019. It started with a dream from Brenda Brousseau, the former head of the St. Paul Arts Council and Sample Art Collective, to highlight the work of Indigenous artists for the fall Art Crawl in 2019.
Friedli says previous exhibitions have drawn crowds and discussion. “People were constantly coming into the gallery and really being touched by the show and having long, deep, thoughtful conversations with me about their history or their Indigenous identity, or being white and how they’re affected by the colonial traumas of American history and how they feel about that.”
The showcase is an opportunity for the Indigenous community to create their art scene in a country where their voices haven’t always been heard, Friedli says.
“We’re groups of people, tribal people that all have different customs and traditions, and we want to share those with people, as well as the fact that we’re still evolving as people just like everyone else,” Friedli says. “It’s very important to keep in mind that we’re not just a part of a history book. We’re here right now. We’re right here and we’re here to stay.”