Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, honored
five Native American and Alaskan Native artists last night in a
reception at their home in Washington DC. In addition to honoring
the artists, the Bidens displayed a framed print from each of the
artists on the walls of their foyer and living room.
President Joe Biden And Dr. Jill Biden Honored Five Native
Artists At A Reception In Their Home In Washington D.C.
The reception was in honor of artists Tony Abeyta (Navajo),
Crystal Worl (Tlingit Athabascan), Jeff Kahm (Plains Cree), Courtney
Leonard (Shinnecock Nation) and Dan Namingha (Tewa-Hopi) as well
as a celebration of a collaboration between the U.S. Department
of States Office of Art in Embassies (AIE) and the Institute
of American Indian Arts (IAIA).
The five artists were commissioned by the AIE and IAIA to create
10 pieces of art each, that will be exhibited at U.S. diplomatic
facilities around the world.
Dr. Biden was the first to address the approximately 100 guests.
Your artwork represents rich and vibrant cultures that
have thrived on this continent for a millennium, every color, shape
and stroke on the canvas brings to life a connection with your roots
and your ancestors, she said.
When Dr. Biden added with a smile, There is an old adage
that says art outlives politics, the room erupted with laughter
Both AIE Director Ellen Susman and IAIA President Robert Martin
lauded the efforts of the artists and expressed appreciation for
a successful collaboration between the two agencies.
After addressing the room, Martin presented a blanket to Dr.
Jill Biden and then introduced the Vice President.
Vice President Biden first joked that now that Dr. Biden had
a warm blanket, "She won't need me anymore," causing the
crowd to laugh and applaud.
Biden and Dr. Biden shared a warm moment and a laugh at a
reception in their Washington DC home.
Biden welcomed the crowd and applauded the artists. He spoke
of how he traveled the world and in over a million miles of travel
hears more about Indian arts and culture than anything else.
"The one thing I think Jill enjoys most about this job
is the opportunity every six or eight weeks to change the art. It
has been a joy," he said.
The Vice President expressed his appreciation for the artwork
created by the artists and the importance of tribal relations to
the Obama administration. "Barack and I have tried very hard
to strengthen the nation's through tribal sovereignty," said
Biden also mentioned his efforts to bring awareness to the importance
of climate change to Indian Nations, the importance of the Affordable
Care Act and of the Violence Against Women Act.
"I hope we are doing something to make up for a century
of not-so-good stewardship," he said.
Biden then thanked the largely Native audience for the "very
richness of Native American culture. Thanks for enriching our lives.
Courtesy of the U.S. Department of States Office of Art
in Embassies (AIE), here are biographies of the five artists as
well as the art that is now displayed at the Vice Presidents
Tony Abeyta (Navajo):
Tony Abeyta is a contemporary Navajo artist working in mixed
media painting. He is a graduate of New York University with an
honorary doctorate from the Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa
Fe, New Mexico. He currently works in both Santa Fe and Berkeley,
California. Tony was the 2012 recipient of the New Mexico Governors
Excellence in the Arts award, and was recognized as a Native Treasure
by the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. His work is included in
the Smithsonians National Museum of the American Indian (Washington,
D.C.), Boston Museum of Fine Arts (Massachusetts), the Heard Museum(Phoenix,
Arizona), New Mexico Fine Arts Museum (Albuquerque), the Autry Museum
(Los Angeles, California), and the Eiteljorg Museum (Indianapolis,
Indiana), as well as in many other public and private collections.
Tony Abeytas primary focus has been on painting the emotional
experience one finds in the New Mexico landscape. There exists
a rhythm in the land where I was born. I spend a lot of time deciphering
the light, the cascades of mesas into canyons, the marriage between
earth and sky and the light as it constantly changes at whim, the
intensity of rock formations, and the sage and chamisa that accent
this poetic experience, unlike anywhere else I have seen. I am beckoned
to remember it and then to paint it.
Crystal Worl (Tlingit Athabascan):
Crystal Worl is a Tlingit Athabascan artist who makes art because
she wants to remind those who have left home that they come from
a special place. Her family and community have guided her to learn,
work, and live for her community. Her practice in storytelling and
art comes from the values and lessons of the Tlingit people and
her family. Crystal works in jewelry, metals, printmaking, kiln-cast
glass, and painting. The forms on which she focuses are based on
traditional Tlingit form and line, also known as Northwest Coast
design. She practices the recreation and modernization of her Clans
crest, the Lukaahadi (Sockeye, Raven Clan). Crystal utilizes her
education to apply new techniques and ways of presenting traditional
designs and stories. Her most recent work explores Tlingit design,
intertwined with stylized Athabascan beadwork patters. Crystal Worl
was introduced at a young age to traditional arts, practices, and
storytelling. In May 2013 she earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree
in studio arts from the Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa
Fe, New Mexico, from which she also obtained her Associate in Fine
Arts degree in moving images.
Jeff Kahm (Plains Cree):
Jeff Kahm is an associate professor at IAIA where he teaches
studio art courses at the intermediate and advanced levels. As an
artist, Jeff creates work in his Santa Fe studio. His solo exhibitions
at the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe (2012), and
at Urban Shaman Contemporary Aboriginal Art in Winnipeg, Manitoba
(2013), highlighted his most recent work a striking series
of small works on paper and panels and an impressive collection
of large scale paintings on canvas, which he describes as rooted
in Indigenous abstraction and Modernist aesthetics. His work
continues to reach a wider audience through various invitational
and group shows, nationally and internationally. Jeff Kahm, Plains
Cree, was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and was raised on the
Little Pine First Nation in Saskatchewan. After completing high
school, he attended the Institute of American Indian Arts (Santa
Fe, New Mexico) to pursue painting and photography. Soon thereafter
he was awarded a painting scholarship from the Kansas City Art Institute
(Kansas), which allowed him to pursue undergraduate studies and
to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1994. Jeff also studied
at the University of Alberta, earning a Master of Fine Arts degree
in 1997. In 2002 Jeff returned to New Mexico, a land that he has
grown to love and that he now calls home. He became a permanent
resident in 2003, and soon began teaching at the Institute of American
Indian Arts (IAIA) as a visiting faculty member.
Courtney Leonard (Shinnecock Nation):
A member of the Shinnecock Nation of Long Island, New York,
Courtney Michele Leonards artwork explores the evolution of
language, image, and culture through mixed media pieces of video,
audio, and tangible objects. Her current work embodies the multiple
definitions of Breach, an exploration and documentation of historical
ties to water, whale, and material sustainability. Courtneys
solo exhibition entitled BREACH: LOG 15 was recently held at the
University of the Ozarks (Clarksville, Arkansas) and the IAIA Museum
of Contemporary Native Arts (Santa Fe), with research in collaboration
with indigenous artists from Aotearoa and Nova Scotia. Courtney
has given lectures and exhibited nationally and internationally,
most recently at Toi Ngaphui Northland College (New Zealand), the
Museum of Art and Design (New York City), Museum of Contemporary
Native Arts (Santa Fe), Eastern Connecticut University (Willimantic),
Tribeca Film Institute (New York City), National Museum of the American
Indian (Washington, D.C.), University of the Creative Arts Farnham
(England), and the University of Rostock (Germany). She currently
lives in Santa Fe, and works as a professional artist, lecturer,
and visiting assistant professor in studio arts at the Institute
of American Indian Arts. She studied art and museum studies at the
Institute of American Indian Arts (Santa Fe, New Mexico; Associate
of Fine Arts degree), Alfred University (New York; Bachelor of Fine
Arts degree), and the Rhode Island School of Design (Providence,
Rhode Island; Master of Fine Arts degree).
Dan Namingha (Tewa-Hopi):
Dan Namingha is from the Tewa-Hopi tribe, and he works in a
broad variety of media, including paintings, sculpture, and collage.
His artistic journey has led him to combine his personal ideas and
memories with the symbolism of his Hopi-Tewa culture, to translate
the powerful geography of the Southwest through formal concepts
of modern art and composition. His work often draws on the sacred
traditions of his culture, which are so deeply embedded in ceremony.
Dans work commands unwavering respect for the earth and spirit
of his ancestry. Dans formal study took him to the University
of Kansas (Lawrence), the American Academy of Art (Chicago, Illinois),
and the Institute of American Indian Arts (Santa Fe, New Mexico),
from which he received an Honorary Doctorate degree in 2009. Dan
Namingha has exhibited in dozens of one-man shows and many more
group exhibitions, and his work hangs in more than thirty major
institutions, including the Smithsonian Institution (Washington,
D.C.), the Sundance Institute, the Heard Museum (Phoenix, Arizona),
the British Royal Collection (London, England), and other museums
worldwide. He has received awards from the Harvard Foundation and
the Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, Massachusetts), as well as the Visionary
Award from the Institute of American Indian Arts Foundation. His
work has toured Europe as part of an exhibition sponsored by the
United States Information Agency and is found in several U.S. embassies.
Dan Namingha is the subject of several film documentaries, and his
work in held in numerous collections worldwide.