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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

WAM artist talk introduces exhibit highlighting local Native artists

When Daniel Pewewardy isn’t working at the Wichita Public Library, he’s busy making memes about manifest destiny, murder and his family’s history. While his meme account is one of the ways he expresses his creativity, he also devotes himself to other artistic work. Best known for his stand-up comedy, Pewewardy also works in filmmaking, and is otherwise involved in the local art community. 

His latest project involves an exhibit at the Wichita Art Museum (WAM) titled “Twice Removed: Native American Life After Relocation” and features work from contemporary Native artists, with a focus on highlighting what life looks like for Native Americans today. The exhibit was introduced to the public in Cessna Gallery as part of WAM Nights, an initiative that features artist talks and performances every Friday evening at the Wichita Art Museum.

“I think what’s really important is just kind of pushing the idea that Native Americans are still here,” Pewewardy said in his presentation. “We’re in the 21st century. We’re not living in teepees.” 

The exhibit includes a video project that Pewewardy collaborated on, photography, several folding chairs, which Pewewardy terms “powwow chairs,” painted with the names of the Kiowa Six, and ledger art. Ledger art is an evolution of traditional paintings from various Great Plains tribes, which were originally done on buffalo hides. In his presentation introducing the exhibit, Pewardy explained the significance of this type of art and why he chose to feature it.

“They wanted to find ways to defeat us, so they just killed our food supply because it was easier. So hides became harder to use to continue our artistic traditions,” Pewewardy, who is Comanche, said. “So, you see Plains natives start using paper and it’s called ledger art.”

Pewewardy also chose ledger art for its accessibility to everyone, regardless of artistic education or experience.

“I wanted to find a medium in the native art world that was contemporary, not necessarily traditional and open to all tribes,” he said.

Multiple Native American artists contributed to the ledger art on display in the exhibit. Pewewardy found these artists with the help of Harvester Arts,a nonprofit community art organization partnered with the Wichita Art Museum to recruit local artists. 

“They really are a conduit for us to the local artists community,” Molly McFerson, the museum’s director of learning, engagements and partnerships said. “They work with so many local artists and we have opportunities here through this community gallery.”

Pewewardy says it is important to support artists like the ones whose ledger art is featured in “Twice Removed”.

“Following the artists, finding their Instagram, looking them up online, buying their art and supporting their art is I think the most important thing anyone can take away from the show is to continue supporting the native community in their artwork,” he said.

“Twice Removed: Native American Life After Relocation” will be at the Wichita Art Museum through November 26. Museum admission is free to the public and featured exhibitions are free to Wichita State students with a student ID.

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About the Contributors
Ainsley Smyth
Ainsley Smyth, Reporter
Ainsley Smyth is a second-year reporter for The Sunflower. Smyth is a sophomore communications major with an emphasis in journalism and media productions. Her dream job is to travel back in time 30 years and then be a reporter for Rolling Stone. Smyth uses she/her pronouns.
Madeline Bell
Madeline Bell, Former photographer
Bell was a photographer for The Sunflower. Bell absolutely loves slasher films; she says the more blood, the better. A goal of hers is to travel and never stay idle. Bell uses she/her pronouns.

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