Art exhibit focuses on missing tribal women, girls | Wisconsin News
MILWAUKEE (AP) — In 2016, the National Crime Information Center reported nearly 6,000 missing cases of Native American and Alaskan women and girls. That’s according to a study by the Urban Indian Health Institute.
Researchers say the numbers could be higher.
An exhibit at Walker’s Point Center for the Arts in Milwaukee aims to bring the issue to more people. It’s called “No More Stolen Sisters”.
Upon entering the exhibit, on the wall is a poem entitled “Poem About Disappearance,” written by a former Wisconsin Poetry Prize winner.
Valaria Tatera is showing the exhibition and says it draws attention to the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, WUWM-FM reported.
Tatera is a member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. She is one of the show’s curators and one of the featured artists. Teresa F. Faris, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, is the other curator.
Tatera says she wanted to do an exhibition about missing and murdered tribal women, girls and two ghosts or MMIWG2S. “Two-Spirit” refers to a wide range of sexual and gender identities among Native Americans and Alaskans.
“The intent is to raise awareness of the crisis and make space for the MMIWG2S and their families. I think it’s important that we understand that the link between the commodification and exploitation of tribal land leads to the commodification and exploitation of indigenous people,” says Tatera.
The show features Indigenous artists from across North America and the US territories and allies, and includes works in metal, clay, mixed media and more.
Tatera shares data on missing and murdered tribal women and girls. “A study by the National Institute of Justice found that four out of five Alaskan Indian and Native American women have experienced violence in their lifetime, or about 84 percent. And out of that 84%, half of those women have experienced sexual violence,” she says.
Tatera adds that the US Department of Justice has found that Native American women face homicide rates more than 10 times the national average.
The artwork “No More Stolen Sisters” fills two rooms of the Walker’s Point art gallery. In the first room, Tatera showed a play called Baggage.
“It shows an indigenous woman in her regalia, printed on a black garbage bag with a modern red purse, and her face has a barcode on it,” says Tatera. The barcode could allude to indigenous women being commodities.
Another focal point in the back of the room is a red dress on a hanger on the wall. Words are embroidered on it, some with small beads and others with thread. It’s called Spidersilk Dress.
Tatera read part of the text: “Spiders in my brain spin stories of my wives. the women my body god’s belly weave text weaves.”
As you walk through the hall, there are works along the walls that lead to a second room.
There are several acrylic paintings of faceless indigenous women dressed in regalia. According to artist Harmony Hill, they are meant to represent the grace, beauty and strength of native women beyond individual identities and tribal regions.
As you enter the second room, there is a distinctive piece on the wall made up of 500 individual red ribbons, each with the word “Justice” written on them.
It is one of Tatera’s works. She says each tape represents one of the missing.
I was also drawn to an installation in the corner of the room called When She Goes Missing.
The installation entitled When She Goes Missing is located in the corner of the second gallery space of the No More Stolen Sisters exhibition.
“And it has three hands. One is holding another hand that is red and the clock is showing 10. Another is a hand over a face; The clock shows 11:30 am. And the last one is a hand with fingers crossed, blood is dripping on the clock, and the clock reads 1:00,” says Tatera.
Tatera says she wants people watching the No More Stolen Sisters exhibit to know that tribal women are not invisible.
She says the issue of missing and murdered tribal women, girls and two ghosts is a crisis. It’s a movement. And indigenous women and girls are resilient.
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