The University of Nebraska’s Great Plains Art Museum has announced Gwen Westerman as the 2015 Elizabeth Rubendall Artist in Residence.
During her residency from Sept. 1-5 and Nov. 11-14, Westerman, a fiber artist and poet, will use the lobby of the museum to create a unique textiles piece that will become part of the museum’s permanent collection.
Visitors and school groups are invited to view and interact with Westerman as she works in the museum. Check the museum’s website at http://go.unl.edu/plainsart for exact times when she’ll be working in the gallery. Groups may arrange tours by contacting the museum at 402-472-6220.
Westerman lives in southern Minnesota, as did her Dakota ancestors. Her roots are deep in the landscape of the tall grass prairie, and reveal themselves in her art and writing through the languages and traditions of her family. Westerman won the museum’s 2014 Contemporary Indigeneity Exhibition award. Her solo exhibition, “We Are Star People: The Art and Poetry of Gwen Westerman,” will be on display in the lower-level gallery from Sept. 1 through Jan. 30, 2016. Many of the works and poems displayed contain Dakota language.
“As Dakota people, we have a long, rich history that explains not only where we came from, but also our responsibilities to each other and to the universe,” Westerman writes. “My art is grounded in Dakota culture, history, oral tradition and language recovery – and the continuation of our story.”
Since 2005, she has been creating quilts that have won awards at the juried shows of the Northern Plains Indian Art Market in Sioux Falls, S.D., the Eiteljorg Indian Art Market in Indianapolis and the Heard Museum Guild Indian Art Fair and Market in Phoenix. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Red Cloud Heritage Center Museum in Pine Ridge, S.D., the University Art Galleries at the University of South Dakota and the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul. A professor of English at Minnesota State University, Mankato, Westerman is an enrolled member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota Oyate. The co-author of “Mni Sota Makoce: The Land of the Dakota,” which won a 2013 Minnesota Book Award, she also has a collection of poetry in Dakota and English, “Follow the Blackbirds.”
This is the ninth year that the Artist in Residence program has been supported by the Elizabeth Rubendall Foundation.
The Great Plains Art Museum, 1155 Q St., is open to the public 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and admission is always free.