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Native American life, art to be focus of event, exhibits

by Suzanne Zack - May 30, 2006

This summer, exhibit space in the University of Connecticut Libraries will abound with examples of Native American artistic traditions.

Artifacts from the collections of the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History and Connecticut Archeology Center, juxtaposed with the work of contemporary artists, will demonstrate the enduring spirit of Native American art forms. The exhibits run from June 5 through Aug. 20.

In conjunction with the exhibits, the Libraries will sponsor a daylong “Gathering in Celebration of Native American Life and Artistic Traditions,” featuring dancers in Native American regalia, drumming, storytelling, books, vendors, and more on Saturday, June 10, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., on the South Plaza of Homer Babbidge Library.

As part of the event, the Libraries will sponsor lectures by two UConn faculty members: Connecticut State Archaeologist Nicholas Bellantoni will speak on “Native American Site Preservation and Public Awareness: The Role of the State Archaeologist and the Importance of Collections,” at 1 p.m.; and Kevin McBride, professor of anthropology at UConn and research director of the Mashantucket-Pequot Museum and Research Center, will speak on “10,000 years of Native History at Mashantucket” at 2 p.m.

Both lectures will take place in the Konover Auditorium at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.

In addition to the exhibit of Native American artifacts from the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History, other exhibits include: “The Clan Mothers” and “Between the Sky and the Earth: Aboriginal Spirituality” by Sylvia Bertolini, and “Cedars Song Flutes” by Jim Adams.

“The Clan Mothers,” acrylic on board with relief in paper paste, includes 13 art pieces, which symbolize the medicine wheel of the clan mothers.

The medicine wheel is a symbol for the wheel of life, which is forever evolving and bringing new lessons and truths to each person.

Each of the Clan Mothers relates to a cycle of the moon, and reflects a particular teaching, possesses special totems (animals that reflect the attributes of an individual’s character), talents, and gifts.

“Between the Sky and the Earth Aboriginal Spirituality,” acrylic and oil on canvas ‘skins,’ represent the four directions and visually describe the feelings associated with the movement of life.

Born in Montreal, Bertolini studied at the Montreal School of Fine Arts and at the Academia de Belle Arti in Venice, Italy where she completed her master’s degree.

She currently lives in Quebec, Canada.

Adams creates finely crafted Native American flutes and drums as well as wampum jewelry, of Cherokee and Penobscot descent.

A resident of South Windham, he has been crafting Native American art since he was a child, with the help and teachings of his father.

He retired after 21 years of service with the Air Force and worked as the human resources manager for a local computer company, and later as the nationwide temporary staffing program manager for General Electric.

After Sept. 11, he left the corporate world to pursue his art work full time.

For a schedule of events, go to: http://www.lib.uconn.edu/about/exhibits/Gathering.htm.

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