“Many people view the world as a series of separate and autonomous beings and environments – nothing could be further from the truth. We are all connected.” These are the words of Gabriel Frey, a twelfth-generation Passamaquoddy basket maker. His art is deeply rooted in the traditions of his people, who have strong ties to the land, and to family. “The message of my artwork is one of connectivity and reciprocity,” said Frey in his artist statement.
Frey makes his baskets with brown ash, a material of particular significance to the Wabanaki. In the Wabanaki creation legend, the hero-god Gluskap shot an arrow into a brown ash tree to create the first man and woman. By using brown ash, Frey is taking part in celebrating and maintaining those cultural touchstones that are so important to our history.
It is these ideas that Frey likely will discuss in his talk at Bar Harbor’s Abbe Museum as part of the “Brown Bag Lunch Series” focused on the artists featured in the exhibition “Twisted Path III: Questions of Balance.” Frey’s talk will be held from noon to 1 PM on March 20.
“Twisted Path III” is the third in a series of exhibitions at the Abbe Museum featuring contemporary Native American Art. This installment, “Questions of Balance,” is on view until December 27, 2014. The artists featured in the exhibition are: Gina Brooks, Maliseet; Gabriel Frey, Passamaquoddy; Nicholas Galanin, Tlingit/Aleut; Shan Goshorn, Cherokee; Rick Hunt, Abenaki; Patricia Michaels, Taos Pueblo; Shane Perley-Dutcher, Maliseet; Vera Longtoe Sheehan, Abenaki; and Will Wilson, Diné.
Viewers are able to examine Native American perspectives on environmental issues through contemporary art. According to the museum’s website, the exhibition “does not present answers about resource use, colonial oppression or cultural connections to place, but asks you to consider these issues in your own context, and challenges you to create your own solutions.”
The idea of balance suggests many things: the balance between protecting the land and using its resources, between honoring traditions and fostering innovation, between building tight-knit communities and welcoming other people. It is a rich source of inspirations and ideas, one which these talented artists draw from to create beautiful and thought-provoking work.
Another upcoming artist talk will be with Gina Brooks, who works in several media, including pen and ink, paint, ash baskets, moosehair embroidery, quillwork, and more. Brooks’ talk will be held on April 17 from noon to 1 PM.
Admission to the museum is free through April 30.