Norman Akers, Sarah Sense archive

September 4 – October 24, 2020

NORMAN AKERS: Halfway There
SARAH SENSE: Cowgirls and Indians

Click to see Norman Akers prints.

Norman Aker’s paintings and prints seek to engage the viewer in important contemporary issues. Aker’s Osage identity and culture shape the visual narrative of personal and cultural survival expressed through his use of color, line and form.

Aker’s deeply felt concern regarding removal, disturbance, and struggle to regain cultural context, is carried by a vocabulary of images and symbols drawn from his Osage heritage and life experience. Tribal oral histories, maps, art historical reference and nature form Aker’s visual dialogue as he explores and continues the Native American storytelling tradition. Ancestral tribal stories are expanded with new and emerging stories that serve as allegories of transformation in an ever-changing world.

Current issues in the news, the concept of borders, immigration and the migration of people are current events working their way into Aker’s work. Especially in his prints, we find the question of the identity of the “other” entering into the visual discourse. Personal content has expanded to engage with current social issues as Aker’s explores the relationship that exists between fact and fiction, mirroring the present moment and echoing the past.

Click to see Sarah Sense photographs.

“Cowboy and Indian iconography are deeply rooted in America without recognition of the real history or the consequences of stereotypes. These generalizations are detrimental to the collective community and to the individual. Cowgirls and Indians explores these questions of identity and the influence of imagery.”
-Sarah Sense

Sarah Sense’s woven photographs layer images from her Chitimacha and Choctaw heritage with photographs from Hollywood and pop culture, the Chitimacha landscape of Bayou Teche, her Coctaw grandmother’s writings, and her two personas: Cowgirl and Indian Princess. The weaving together of strips of paper echoes a traditional Chitimacha basket technique and creates patterning that shifts the imagery between abstraction and recognition. The physicality of the weaving pushes the imagery forward and backward, creating a dialogue between the timelessness of the landscape and the temporal quality of everything else.

Like photographs, stories are a recorded history, merging time and memory. Sense weaves together images of struggle, landscape, and pop culture that pose questions about what we have been told. These stories about stereotypes of Native North America, guns and women being taken, are transformed by Sense and revealed as new stories relevant for our time.

These exhibitions were open September 4 – October 24, 2020.

Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 11-5 p.m.
For past exhibitions, please visit our archive.