June Artist in Residence Kim Shuck shares her experience in the Kimball Education Gallery
June 4—A second foop
A few years ago I was given a set of meditation bells in a rosewood box. You were meant to tip the box over and some number of ball bearings inside would adhere to these sticky disks on the top of the box. Then when you flipped it back over the balls would gradually fall in varying patterns of sound. The reality was that you'd get the balls stuck and flip the box and about half of the balls would fall in one foop (foop here meaning flurry) then some time later another foop and so forth. I have not tipped that box in over a year but there are still some hold out bearings that every so often release and sound a bell. That happened this morning. I also got damp basement that had to be dried immediately. Today was pretty interesting, even before I got to the museum. I suppose that everything informs the work eh? So we had a massive foop on tuesday moving in, now we've had another foop. I imagine that at this point the balls fall more slowly.
In the gallery two really fantastic images have been added to theprojection screens, they are of some California dance regalia that is pretty important to the local community. YAY! Regalia is the term that many Native people now use to refer to what we wear for dancing. This might be ceremonial or social dancing, but the outfit is called regalia. That's much of what I make as a bead worker. People come to me and ask for a bit of beadwork, say it's a bag, or a pair of dance shoes (this is a bit of a picky point but the word moccasins is from the Anishinabe language, since most people won't understand the Tsalagi word I just like to call them shoes, many native folk will call them moccasins or mocs... ok I'm a nerd and I think you will find a bit of a pedant). Regalia is what Michael's painted guys are wearing as well.
So I had this whole plan about what I was going to do during this residency... and I've changed it a bit. I had a dream (this isn't a woo woo kind of 'vision' thing, this is just a dream from which I remembered something interesting, non-Native friends of mine have dreams that they work from too... quite garden variety, this design technique). In the dream I had a vest with a pattern of raven feathers on it. It's tough to describe what I'm thinking about - the shapes and color variations- so you will just have to come see. Vest stitched together, no beads on yet. Tomorrow is a good time to come though as we have musical guests.
I want to take a moment to say something that I've spent a fair amount of time thinking about and perhaps alluded to earlier in this writing. Michael and I are both Native. We both work in forms that are particularly associated with Native cultures (past that fact I speak only for myself). Native people tend to have all kinds of special stuff associated with us. Our cultures are still often murky for folks from outside of them. We seem to have shifted, in general perception, from being quite dim-witted generally, to being quite spooky and spiritual. There may be people like that in our communities, likely not more than any other population. It is my opinion that the confusion about Native groups grows best in the fertilizer of these tropes. I want you to come visit the gallery. I'm thrilled to help generate insight about the uses and value of regalia in a modern age. I have to say though, for the record, that you are more likely to encounter silliness than some deep, land-based wisdom. I am a bit of a jester, which I generally do with a very straight face. There is cultural learning to be had from the work that you will find in the Kimball this month, but no more of it then is always available there. I'm not selling snake oil. You could walk barefoot across the sea of my ability to connect you with some deeper wisdom and not get the tops of your feet wet.
At any rate, beaded leather is an art of intimacy. There is beading happening. Come help with the group beading project, talk about materials, techniques and imagery. Come smell the smoked hides. Did you know that peyote stitch comes in at least three forms? I have examples of the two lesser known forms in the gallery. Come see.