Opening July 5, Columbia State Community College’s Pryor Art Gallery will present “Return from Exile,” an exhibit traveling along the historically chronicled Trail of Tears. The exhibit will run through Aug. 25 and features contemporary southeastern Indian art expressions by artists from five Native American tribes.
The exhibit will be open and free to the public for the months of July and August while celebrating the artists reception at closing ceremonies on Aug. 25 from 4 – 8 p.m. that will include a closing lecture in the Cherry Theater at 5 p.m. to be delivered by Troy Wayne Poteete, supreme justice of the Supreme Court of the Cherokee Nation and distinguished tribal leader. There will be traditional powwow dancing and music following the speaker.
“After some research of my Cherokee ancestry, I discovered that Columbia State sits on the path of the Trail of Tears,” said Michele Wilkinson, Pryor Art Gallery, curator. “This discovery led me to research Native American contemporary culture and art, which led me to conversations with Poteete and Bobby Martin, educator and co-curator. Much to our surprise, the artists that I was curating were already assembled in the “Return From Exile” exhibit. Columbia State filled the vacancy in the trial and made the path complete.”
Wilkinson said the exhibit represents the Native American return to the homeland in Georgia from exile and features paintings, drawings, prints, basketry, sculptures and pottery from more than 30 of the best tribal artists from five tribes.
“The body of artists chosen for the “Return from Exile” exhibition create work that speaks to our time, place and future,” said Tony A. Tiger, artist, co-curator and art educator for the exhibit. “I pray ‘Return from Exile’ will remind all who witness the art that we are all in the same boat of existence.”
The title of the exhibition refers to the fact that the ancestors of the artists were exiled from their homelands in Georgia where the exhibit made its first appearance began to trace the Trail of Tears journey. Columbia State will be the second stop on this soulful journey until reaching its final destination in Oklahoma.
“Return from Exile” is the first major traveling exhibition presenting the vibrant contemporary expressions by professional visual and performing artists from tribal Cherokee nations with an historical connection to the homeland in the state of Georgia. Specifically, this refers to the so-called Five Civilized Tribes—the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee, Muscogee (or Creek) and Seminole.
“This exhibit is for the good of the families in our community recognizing that many of us have a Native American lineage,” Wilkinson said. “We invite everyone to come and help us celebrate the close to our exhibit on August 25th. Our speaker is a great story-teller. Artists will be available to chat and music and dance will entertain the children”
To preview the art and read about the participating artists and supporters of “Return From Exile” exhibit, please visit www.returnfromexile.org.
For more information relating to the Pryor Art Gallery exhibit, contact Michele Wilkinson at 931.540.2883 or mwilkinson2@ColumbiaState.edu.
The Pryor Art Gallery is in the Waymon L. Hickman building on the Columbia Campus, located at 1665 Hampshire Pike.
Hours – Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., Friday & Saturday 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
For additional information, please visit www.ColumbiaState.edu/PryorGallery.
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