Native Village
Youth and Education news
October 2010 Volume

Art and Theater: Luna/Ssipsis
Condensed by Native Village

Maine: The art gallery at the University of Southern Maine is featuring ""The Turtle/Television Island Project. The art show " links two very different native artists whose work is bound by bold nature and challenging subject matter.

The show spotlights the work of performing artist James Luna, and Penobscot author and birch bark artist Jean Thompson, also known as Ssipsis.

This is Luna's first exhibition in Maine and the first major focus on the work of Ssipsis's work. Like Luna, Ssipsis is known for social activism.

As director of the USM's Art Gallery , Caroline Eyler tries to elevate the art and culture of Maine's American Indian tribes -- the Maliseet, Micmac, Penobscot and Passamaquoddy, known also as the Wabanaki. She curated a native basket exhibition several years ago and closely follows the Native art scene for exhibits of contemporary Native-American art.

Luna, 59, is a Mexican-American performance artist and multimedia installation artist from the La Jolla Indian Reservation in California. Luna will serve as artist in residence at USM as part of his participation in the show.

Ssipsis, 69, lives on Indian Island, Maine, and is among first generation Native artists reclaiming and recovering  lost Native-American arts. She is best known for her work in birch bark.

In 1970, Ssipsis led a protest at Old Town where she served the town an eviction notice citing the Penobscot interpretation of a treaty agreement. The protest and eviction notice -- written on a birch bark scroll -- gained a lot of national attention.  Ssipsis now has a legendary status among the Wabanaki.

"The Turtle/Television Island Project" features photographs, performance videos and cultural objects that Luna uses while performing. It also includes Ssipsis' birch bark artifacts, examples of her writing, and documentary material related to her activism. 

"The Turtle/Television Island Project" runs through Nov. 10, 2010.

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