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Minnesota Art Exhibit Depicts Reflections as an ‘Outsider’ in Native Family

Minnesota Art Exhibit Depicts Reflections as an ‘Outsider’ in Native Family

BEMIDJI, Minn. — Blair Treuer is a non-Native woman whose husband and children are Ojibwe, and her new exhibit, “Portraits,” depicts her reflections as a white outsider to the Ojibwe cultural practices and beliefs that shape her Native family’s identity.

Watermark Art Center in Bemidji, Minnesota, hosts Treuer and her first gallery exhibit of “Portraits” at its January 10 opening. It will remain on display through March 28, 2020. Her work, which garnered national attention last year, is a collection of large images constructed with fabrics of different colors, patterns, shapes, and sizes sewn together in a quilt-like fashion to create realistic portraits of her family.

She began her love affair with fabric when her children’s participation in an Ojibwe ceremony required her to make blankets as a part of their spiritual offering. She poured everything into their construction all the while teaching herself this new art form.  Through this process, she became a “storyteller who paints with fabric and draws with thread.”

In many of her pieces, a recurring goldfinch theme is present. The goldfinch is the language bird in Ojibwe culture.

Beyond that, “Self Portrait,” a nude portrait featuring the artist with finches perched on antlers growing from the top of her head, was born from her unique perspective and represents the combination of both despair and hope that she feels as a mother and wife and her purpose in this world.

“Self Portrait” received a semi-honorable mention from Art Olympia 2019 in their 3rd Biennial International Open Art Competition in Japan.  Meanwhile, “Maddy,” a depiction of family members partaking in the “sugar bush” or tapping of maple trees, received special recognition by Light Space Time’s  9th Annual All Women Online Art Competition. 

Watermark Art Center is located at 505 Bemidji Ave. N. Bemidji, Minnesota. The center can be reached at (218) 444-7570 and  watermarkartcenter.org. Visit blairtreuer.com for more information.

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