Twisted Path III, Meet the Artists


As we approach the end of the year here at the Abbe, Curator of Collections, Julia Clark and Manager of Guest and Creative Services, Allison Shank are hard at work preparing to install our new feature exhibit, Twisted Path III, Questions of Balance. In our previous eNews we featured two of the ten artists participating in the exciting new exhibit. Here we introduce you to two more:

Will Wilson, Diné was born in San Francisco and moved permanently to the Navajo Reservation at the age of 10. He attended the Bureau of Indian Affair's Tuba City Boarding School from 1978 to 1983. He holds a bachelor's degree in art history and studio art and a master's of fine art in photography. Wilson has worked in a variety of media and has produced large-scale multi-media installations that incorporate photography and sculpture, monumental art pieces and intimate photo essays. 

In addition to his profession as an artist and photographer, he is also an arts educator and community organizer. Wilson has taught sculpture at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, N.M., and he served two years as a photojournalist in Central America for the Associated Press. He currently resides in Tucson, Ariz., where he is the co-director of the Barrio Anita Community Mural Project (BAMP), the largest public art commission in Tucson's history. Wilson is also a Visiting Professor of Photography at the University of Arizona in Tucson. 

Most recently Wilson's work provides a glimpse into the complex contemporary negotiation with a land we have become alienated from, our dis-ease in understanding who we are, and possible paths for healing. 

Wilson's work focuses on Navajo people and their relationship to the land. "His works are poetic and gritty meditations on the human condition and Wilson's relationship to Dinetah, Navajo land," notes Joe Baker, Lloyd Kiva New Curator of Fine Art at the Heard Museum. 

"In my work, there are stories that I grew up with, stories bringing together the cultural weave from which I come. These stories are personal to me as an individual and as a member/citizen of a people, therefore they must be presented and received with respect," Wilson says. "I want my work to strengthen Indians with examples of resistance, and the possibilities of controlling one's own representation." 

One of Wilson's powerful photographs serves as the poster image for the exhibit, seen below:

Vera Longtoe with twined bag. Photo by Lina Longtoe.

Vera Longtoe Sheehan is an indigenous Vermont artist who has lectured and exhibited her work both nationally and internationally. She preserves the tradition of her ancestors, the last known Native American family in northern New England making twined, plant-fiber creations. Her father taught her the proper ways to harvest and process plants to make cordage, and then to use that cordage to make her distinctive twined bags, baskets and textiles. Today Vera combines family tradition with knowledge of Wabanaki culture to create her one-of-a-kind twined art that is both contemporary and ancient at the same time. Each innovative handmade object takes hours, days, weeks or even months of complex weaving and knotting to complete. Vera is committed to teaching her two children to twine, so that this endangered art form endures. For almost twenty years, Vera has combined her indigenous Vermont heritage, her knowledge of regional history, and a passion for artistic creation, in offering programs for schools and museums. Her twined bags, baskets and textiles reside in museum and private collections and can be seen in films and literature.