Weaving History into Art: The Enduring Legacy of Shan Goshorn

Shan Goshorn, They Were Called Kings, 2013, arches watercolor paper, archival ink, acrylic paint, gold foil

Weaving History into Art: The Enduring Legacy of Shan Goshorn
October 9, 2020 – March 28, 2021

Thomas Gilcrease Institute of American History and Art
1400 N Gilcrease Museum Rd
Tulsa, OK 74127

There’s something about having a message in the vessel shape that makes people really curious … really engages them. They literally lean forward and look in and want to know more about it. It’s the perfect springboard for honest dialogue. I’ve never seen anything like it.

-Shan Goshorn

Weaving History into Art: The Enduring Legacy of Shan Goshorn features the art of Shan Goshorn (Eastern Band Cherokee, 1957-2018) and her legacy of influence carried forward through the works of four contemporary Native American women artists.

Shan Goshorn was internationally recognized for weaving archival documents and photographs into baskets using traditional Cherokee techniques to create historical, political, and cultural commentary on Native American issues that continue to resonate in the 21st century.

Central to the exhibition is the premier of Squaw, the last work Goshorn completed prior to her passing. Squaw was inspired by the Venus de Milo, an iconic symbol of female beauty. Juxtaposing this model with the title Squaw creates a tension and contrast to the Western ideal of beauty against a pejorative used to reduce Native women to disposable sexual commodities. Squaw will serve as a catalyst for much-needed conversations on why indigenous women suffer disproportionately higher rates of violence than non-Native women and the judicial system’s reluctance to prosecute these crimes.

Goshorn’s artistic legacy is also represented and complemented by the art of four Native American women whose works reflect Shan’s influence and vision: Carol Emarthle-Douglas (Northern Arapahoe/Seminole) is well-regarded for her traditional and contemporary baskets, jewelry and paintings; Anita Fields (Osage/Muscogee Creek), is nationally recognized for her unique contemporary ceramic sculptures, mixed-media installations, traditional Osage ribbon work, and as an arts educator; Lisa Rutherford (Cherokee), a textile artist, potter and maker of traditional Cherokee clothing, beadwork, and baskets; Holly Wilson (Delaware/Cherokee), a contemporary multi-media artist whose works include bronzes, encaustics, photography, glass, and clay.

Through Goshorn’s hand-woven basketry, Weaving History into Art will encourage engaging, empathetic interactions with difficult subjects, including the loss of Native homelands, cultural genocide, violence directed at Native women, and inappropriate cultural appropriation in a non-threatening experience that promotes informed dialogue among Native and non-Native audiences alike.

Bloodline-Holly Wilson
Bloodline-Holly Wilson