Arts & Culture: Diversity Dialogue

Cultural Diversity and Inclusion in the Arts in New York State’s Southern Tier

Native American Cultures Celebrated @ The ARTS

A traditional mexican ofrenda and sculptures by a native american artist are currently being featured in the windows of The Gallery @ The ARTS.

El Dia de los Muertos is a Mexican feast occurring on November 1 and 2, which commemorates deceased family members. The souls of the dead are believed to visit their families at this time of year, guided home by the odors from special foods and flowers placed on an ofrenda or altar. The ofrendas (altars) feature pictures of the deceased, traditional foods such as pan de muertos (the bread of the dead), tamales and mole, and objects such as papel picado (cut paper decorations), sugar skulls, and flowers.   The traditions accompanying El Dia de los Muertos developed from indigenous cultures especially the Aztec, but after Spanish colonization, Roman Catholic elements were incorporated as well. The ofrenda at The ARTS has been created by artists Sandra Luz Lopez Ramos de Perkins, Maria Guadalupe Garcia Salinas de Martinez, and Reyna Sandoval, in conjunction with the El Dia de los Muertos program at the Rockwell Museum of Western Art, 111 Cedar Street, Corning, which will be held on Sunday, November 1, 2009 and includes an ofrenda demonstration, as well as Mexican folk dances and songs. Concurrently, the Rockwell hosts the exhibit, Las Artes de Mexico through January 3, 2010.

The other window at The Gallery @ The ARTS features the work of William J. Underwood, a Native American biologist and wildlife sculptor of Abenaki ancestry. The Abenaki are a Northeastern woodland people skilled in all phases of woodcraft.  Traditionally, they used wood extensively for both utilitarian and artistic purposes.   Wooden decoys have been used for many hundreds of years to draw waterfowl.  To be useful, decoys must float.  The fowl come to a body of water believing that others are resting there and are then close enough to hunt using a bow and arrow or nets.
Underwood’s primary subjects are birds, animals and fish set in their natural environments.  All of nature is part of the great circle of life and held in great esteem by Native Americans.  Many are powerful clan symbols and key figures in Native mythology.  Underwood strives to make each piece as realistic as possible.  His goal is to capture the spirit of each creature in all his sculptures.

The ARTS is celebrating Native America cultures in conjunction with the library sponsored “Big Read”, a program to encourage reading.  This year the “Big Read” highlights Love Medicine, a novel by Native American author, Louise Erdrich.  Please stop at the Southeast Steuben County Library for a complete listing of their programs.

For more information please call The ARTS 607.962.5871 x 222.

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This entry was posted on October 23, 2009 by .
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