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New Generation of “Culture Keepers” Show Work at Cherokee Museum

A new generation of Cherokee artists are stepping up as “culture keepers,” tackling the traditional subjects of the tribe in new media and with new eyes. Their visions can be seen in the new art show, “Renewal of the Ancient: Cherokee Millennial Artists,” now open at the Museum of Cherokee Indian.

“We must all encourage young Cherokee artists to discover the vast amount of inspiration found within the past,” explained Joshua Adams, who was invited to serve as guest curator for the show. Adams sent out an invitation to artists age 40 and under and was pleased at the variety of talents and various media assembled for the show.

Adams, a graduate of Western Carolina University and juried member of the Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual, works as a carver in wood, stone, as well as in other media. He was deeply inspired by Cherokee master carvers such as Amanda Crowe and John Julius Wilnoty. His immersion in Cherokee culture can be seen in the carving “Booger of Rebellion,” depicting a traditional masked figure in a robe with a rattle.

Stone mask carved by Freddie Wilnoty

 Boogers figure predominately in the rich photographic prints of John “Bear” Allison, who poses the mysterious figure in panoramic landscapes. Along with Boogers, spiders and the mythic serpent Uktena celebrated in Cherokee stories figure in the paintings by John Henry Gloyne. All told, the show features 60 different artworks by 30 artists working in beads, wood, feathers, basketry, textiles as well as paintings and photography

 “This is important to who we are as a tribe,” said James “Bo” Taylor, the museum’s executive director, at an opening reception for the artists, families, friends and museum supporters.

The show is open to the public at the Cherokee Museum of the Indian.