In Focus: Blair Treuer’s “Portraits” Looks In On Ojibwe Culture
A non-native American woman is portraying her experience being in a traditional Ojibwe family in a new art exhibit at the Watermark Art Center in Bemidji. This is Watermark’s first exhibit of 2020, which depicts 11 textile art pieces made from fabric.
The art exhibit titled “Portraits” is personal for artist Blair Treuer. Each textile art piece depicts her family. The series is an exploration into the role Ojibwe traditions, culture, and beliefs play in shaping identity.
“The work is about all of the amazing cultural and spiritual gifts that my husband and my children have received as a birthright being born into this culture,” Treuer said. “And it’s about the emotional roller coaster ride that I’m on as an outsider looking in.”
This is Treuer’s first time showcasing her artwork in an art exhibit. The self-made artist says she approaches her work like a painting.
“I lay out a huge blank piece of fabric and I cut out tiny pieces of fabric and I place them just like you would a brush stroke, if you were a painter. And then eventually when the composition’s complete or I feel like I’ve conveyed the image that I want to, then I sew it all down,” explained Treuer.
All of the pieces are made from fabric. Treuer says she had difficulty trying to find way to display her work, but in the end, she attached each work to wire.
“Now they’re a bit sculptural, which I think is really fun. So, they have both combination of structure and free form,” Treuer said.
This is the first time the Watermark Art Center will showcase an art collection that combines both portrait and textile art.
“It’s not really a common medium that you see. And the work is just gorgeous,“ said Lori Forshee-Donnay, Watermark Art Center Executive Director. “They’re highly textural, there’s great color, there’s great composition. And so the work was really strong and the exhibit committee is really excited about the application or her proposal and excited to share the work with people.”
Treuer has received two awards, one international and one national, for her art pieces.
The art exhibit will be available now through the end of March.