The Washington State Historical Society (WSHS), Tacoma Art Museum (TAM), and Museum of Glass (MOG) invite you to the annual IN THE SPIRIT Virtual Arts Market and Northwest Native Festival, a celebration of Native cultures. Normally held as a free, day-long indoor/outdoor festival at all three museums, this year the celebration will take place online with events held on multiple days from September 10-October 17, 2020.
The 2020 IN THE SPIRIT exhibition, festival and events have been guided by a thoughtful advisory committee, shepherded by Michael Finley, Washington State Historical Society’s tribal liaison, and Molly Wilmoth, lead program manager at WSHS. “I’m honored to be working with the team to bring this year’s festival forward through a virtual platform. The feedback we received from our tribal partners was invaluable in our endeavor to provide a meaningful virtual experience for everyone,” said Finley.
IN THE SPIRIT includes representation from more than 20 Indigenous nations and presents opportunities to learn about diverse cultures and art through online programming from all three museums. There will be 16 virtual events. The festival begins on September 10 with an intimate look at the work featured in the IN THE SPIRIT Contemporary Native Arts exhibition in conversation with the exhibition’s jurors, followed by the presentation of the annual exhibition awards. Other events will include online conversations with artists and fashion designers in their studios and Meet The Artist video interviews. A virtual arts market will also open September 10, hosting vendors of many cultural and tribal affiliations who have created jewelry, textiles, leather goods, fine art and more. The October 17 closing finale features a performance by and conversation with the band Khu.éex’, playing their one-of-a-kind mix of song and spoken word with atmospheric, visionary jazz improvisation. See www.InTheSpiritArts.org for the full event schedule.
“When The Evergreen State College Longhouse first partnered with the Washington State Historical Society to host a Native arts market and exhibition, both organizations saw it as an opportunity to showcase the Northwest’s vibrant world of Native arts and cultures. It has always been a labor of love,” said Laura VerMeulen (Tlingit, Haida), assistant director at The Evergreen State College Longhouse.
“One of our early hopes for the festival was that it would expand to include the Museum of Glass and the Tacoma Art Museum who also engage in and support living Native artists, which I think helps educate the public that Native arts, artists and cultures are alive and well here in the Pacific Northwest as well as across the continent. The Longhouse formed life-long friendships in those early days, and we are so proud of the work WSHS has continued since,” Ver Meulen added. “Today visitors can take their time with the works in the virtual exhibition to really visit and explore works by artists working in an amazing diversity of media who are expressing the ideas of their time. Every time a show goes up, the next generation of Native artists is watching with hope and a vision for themselves.”
A crowd favorite among the festival events during recent years has been the Native designer fashion show at Tacoma Art Museum. While the runway show cannot happen this year, TAM looks forward to sharing interviews with two designers, including a September 25 home studio tour with Mary Kelsay (Unangax /Unangan) of MEKA Clothing, who has shown her work at TAM since 2013. She will talk about her influences and how the pandemic has changed her work. On October 2, TAM will post a talk with Jacinthe TwoBulls, a Haida weaver who uses traditional weaving techniques to create wearable art.
Artist spotlights hosted by WSHS feature artists whose work is included in this year’s IN THE SPIRIT Contemporary Native Arts exhibition. On September 24, hear from Peter Boome (Upper Skagit) about Prayer Rattles (male, female) and sunrise on the mountains; on October 1, see an interview with Lily Hope (Tlingit) who created the Chilkat Protector mask; and on October 8, meet artist Dan Friday (Lummi) as he describes the creation and inspiration behind his works Owl Totem and Forager Totem. Friday’s work Cedar Star Basket, a glass piece created in 2018, was selected for the Spirit of the Northwest Award, People’s Choice Award, and the Purchase Prize winner in the 2019 exhibition and is now in Washington State Historical Society’s permanent collection.
The Museum of Glass will host multiple Meet the Artist videos, including Rande Cook (Kwakwaka’wakw), Joe Feddersen (Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation), Preston Singletary (Tlingit), and others.
“We are looking forward to hosting the annual IN THE SPIRIT festival in a new virtual format. While we are not able to gather together in person this year, this annual celebration of Indigenous creativity, resilience, culture, and community feels particularly essential in this challenging moment,” said Christina Westpheling, director of education and community engagement at Tacoma Art Museum. “The arts bring us together in joy and solace, and we cannot wait to share these events with our communities, and they’ll be accessible via tablet, laptop, computer and smartphone.”
For the full schedule and artist line-up, visit: InTheSpiritArts.org.