November 3 – December 3 | 2023
Artist Reception | Sunday, November 5 | 1-4pm
Both artists will be present and will speak about their work | 2 pm
Free admission | Refreshments
Norman Akers and Isaiah Stewart approach their creative work from two places. “Places” is used as an amalgam, of their place in life- Akers is a professor at the University of Kansas, while Stewart was a student there; the place of their tribes- Stewart is Lakota/Mohawk and Akers, Osage; and the memory, or vision, of the time and place their work takes viewers. Volland is pleased to present an exhibit that pairs the work of these two northeast Kansas artists. Akers and Stewart remind viewers of the rich, multi-faceted identities of Native Americans through their distinct work.
Akers’ works on paper were made after the pandemic, and Stewart exhibits new ledger paintings. Akers’ map imagery and Stewart’s ledger motifs show a parallel interest in the conflation of colonial and Native influences, ideas and history. The maps in Akers’ work give a sense of location, one that is defined by roads, cities, and county lines. But it is the artist’s other collage elements that deepen the exploration in his pieces, endowing them with a sense of “place,” a word with more significance than landscape or location. In his ledger paintings Stewart also builds off non-Native imagery. In the second half of the 19th century, as the bison population – and their hides that served as canvases – was driven to near extinction and tribes were cordoned into reservations, many Plains Indians were forced to work in new mediums. Ledger drawings came from accountant ledgers, and new materials such as colored pencils changed the pictorial language. Stewart’s paintings continue this imagery, a sign of defiance, adaptability and beauty in the face of injustice.
N O R M A N A K E R S
I explore identity, culture, place, and personal and cultural transformation issues as an Osage artist. Over the years, I have used a visual vocabulary of images and symbols drawn from my heritage, personal life experiences, and contemporary culture. This series of prints uses images of maps, elk, woodpeckers, trees, discarded water bottles, alien spacecraft, and the Covid 19 virus. While the symbolic imagery in my art is rooted in my past, I am interested in how meaning within these images evolves and shifts to address current issues.
My process involves the collage of reproduced images and maps. Images are reworked by drawing, digital means, transfer processes, and chine collé printmaking techniques to make various components used to create the monoprints. The collage process, the physical act of moving, shifting, and placing images on a picture place, constructs compositions that define a new visual space, creating a place where my concerns about an indigenous space and the environment become visible. The digital manipulation of maps and shifting and erased borders become a metaphor for an ever-changing land base informing how we perceive the land. Much of my work deals with the impact of settler colonialism imposed on tribal peoples and the place we call home. I use “place” to refer to the landscape since the word indicates a deeper relationship to the land, where a sense of belonging and thriving cultural and historical perspectives are visible.
These works on paper become symbolic maps of meaning that allow me to orient myself in the physical and transcendent place. My goal as an artist is to create work that engages the viewer in ways of seeing and discovering a notion of indigenous place on contemporary terms.
I S A I A H S T E W A R T
Isaiah Tasunke Wamniomni Luta (Red Whirlwind Horse) Stewart, is a Lakota/Mohawk artist. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Kansas. He has been an artist his whole life from the influence of his artist parents. Isaiah is most notably known for taking traditional Lakota culture, combined with the influence of Cowboy life after Indian Reservations were established.
Isaiah owns his own horses and practices natural horsemanship that inspires his artworks. Horses are family members that are revered to plains mode of survival.
Creating works through painting, drawing, and graphic design allow Isaiah to share his gifts and understanding of western & Native culture. Isaiah makes his home in Kansas with his wife Melissa and daughter Phoenix and his horses.