On Friday, May 24 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Dr. Robert Powless Cultural Center, the American Indian Community Housing Organization (AICHO) is excited to host a reception for its latest art exhibition, titled “Long Night of the Floating Shell”. The exhibit will explore an overlap in themes between two artists’ experiences as contemporary Indigenous artists navigating their connection to their ancestry and communities - Cuyún with roots in the Maya Highlands of Guatemala and Thunder from the Red Lake Nation in Greater Minnesota. This exhibit is free and open to the public and refreshments will be served - the artists will also be present to engage with audience questions. The exhibit will be on view throughout the month of June, ending with a more personal artist Q&A on a date yet to be determined.
The artwork featured in Long Night of the Floating Shell evokes a sense of travel and movement, guided by traditional knowledge - of journeying the midsts of ancestral connections and stories, colonization, light and darkness, and dreams. Thunder and Cuyún are both known for their signature dark-to-light painting style, creating artwork that is bold and full and that will ultimately captivate guests in attendance at this exhibition.
About the exhibit title:
The “Long Night” referenced in the exhibit’s title represents 500 years of darkness - the longest night - of conquest, colonization, and genocide for Indigenous people in the Americas. The concept of the shell manifests in a variety of stories across Indigenous cultures. For the Anishinaabe in particular, the floating Megis shell was what guided them in their migration to Minnesota - appearing several times at key turning points in their journey. Meanwhile, in Maya thought, shells of several varieties hold significant meaning because of their connection to both the land and water. Here, the shell is a message, a way of communicating with those who are no longer here, but never gone. The shell, floating in the sky-water of creation, is there as a guardian, a call home - if we are actively listening for it.
About the Artists:
Zamara Cuyún is a self-taught, “Gringindia” artist of de-Indigenized Highland Maya ancestry; her primary medium is acrylic paint, using elements of Guatemalan Maya history, ideology, myth, and iconography to sometimes explore and create a vibrant, colorful, imaginary dream universe and, at other times, to represent the restless, violent, and unsettling world we are often forced to inhabit. The themes that inspire her work and to which she is drawn back to, time and again, include Indigenous identity (her own, as well as that represented in Guatemalan society), the history of colonization and resistance, the persecution and genocide of Indigenous populations, and the call for social justice, reconciliation, revitalization, and decolonization and the central role and strength of women in this process.
Jonathan Thunder is an award-winning, multi-disciplinary artist currently residing in Duluth, Minnesota, who works with mediums of painting, animation, filmmaking and 3D projection mapping. At the core of his work is a storyline that reflects Thunder’s personal lens as a filter to the social, political, environmental and spiritual climate around us. He has sought to create imagery that is surreal and imaginative by incorporating influences from the structure of his dreams, the culture around him and the direction his life is headed on any given day. He considers his work “vignettes” or short stories within a larger ongoing narrative that evolves as he does. Thunder attended the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM and studied Visual Effects and Motion Graphics in Minneapolis, MN. His work has been featured in many state, regional, and national exhibitions, as well as in local and international publications.
Thunder Fine Art
For more information, contact Moira Villiard at [email protected].