Leah Yellowbird returns April 27th with a new body of work on display at the Dr. Robert Powless Cultural Center, located at 202 W. 2nd Street in Duluth. The art exhibition, titled Dimensions, will open with a reception from 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m with refreshments served and artist in attendance. There is a $10 suggested donation, but nobody will be turned away for lack of funds.
Yellowbird’s latest work is cross-dimensional, with 3-D painted animal busts, a 9-foot bear sculpture constituted by pom-poms, a collection of black velvet beadwork designs, and an impressive selection of her signature pointillist paintings. The exhibit is set to be an immersive experience for guests in attendance; Leah’s style has been refined more and more over the last few years, and the focus of this exhibit is the physical contexts of her work, be it through deviation from the canvas or focus on individual characteristics. For instance, having mastered her particular style on its surface, Leah has delved into new territory, adding depth to her already intriguing subject matter through a special focus on painted backgrounds. These backgrounds contrast the images on their surface in new and unexpected ways. She describes the process as having been like painting two separate pieces in one - the background and foreground as separate but merged images.
Meanwhile, her elaborate beaded designs draw inspiration from different styles of tribal beading found across Minnesota. Her full-size animal busts (adorned with dot-painted designs) and giant pom-pom bear demand full attention in an exhibit bursting with color, depth and vibrancy. The exhibit will also include paintings commissioned as designs for the new government building in Virginia, Minnesota.
Intricate, graceful, thought-provoking and profound -- these are all words that have been used to describe the elaborate masterwork of Leah Yellowbird. Originally a traditional bead-worker, she identifies strongly with her First Nations Algonquin-Metis and Anishinaabe heritage. At a young age, Yellowbird learned from her aunt how to follow traditional beading patterns and has been working in this medium her entire life. This knowledge, combined with her creative eye and exploration of color, has spilled over into the realm of painting, and she is now well-regarded for her work in all mediums.
Yellowbird was the assistant to the executive director at a food shelf in International Falls; after a rough period in her personal life that involved a death and the end of a relationship, she moved to Grand Rapids and took a break from everything. From there, she made the natural progression into painting and completed two murals, this after roughly two decades without ever picking up a paintbrush.
Yellowbird had her first solo exhibition at the American Indian Community Housing Organization (AICHO) in 2013 and has since had her work on display at a variety of prominent spaces, including the Macrostie Art Center, Plains Museum of Art, and the Tweed Museum of Art. She was the Grand Rapids Arts artist in residence from 2015 until 2016 there, her studio was open to the public and she created some of her most popular pieces to date. Recently, she was commissioned to design the floor of the new government building in Virginia, Minnesota.
Yellowbird describes her process in the context of survival; painting and beading are like breathing to her. She draws inspiration from the traditional art forms of her ancestors while adding a modern voice to the imagery, the result of which evokes a sense of nostalgia and wonder. Her work is a visual manifestation of time, each dot embodying a moment and a prayer. Using precision, pressure and symmetry, her pointillistic style leaves viewers humbled and curious -- they walk away having seen something they’ve never seen before.
For more information, contact Moira Villiard at [email protected].
To find out more about AICHO’s Arts Programming: www.facebook.com/aichogalleries