Stephen Wall: Circuit-Venting the Norm in Native Arts with Techno-Dodems

Did you know that the word “totem” came from the word “dodem?”  In Ojibway, dodem refers “to the effigy or other symbol of a clan, family or social group that share a common ancestry or affiliation.”  Totem was the name given them incorrectly by anthropologists.  I didn’t know that, but sculpture artist Stephen Wall, Chippewa and Seneca, gave me the scoop and set me straight on that subject at the 2010 Native Treasures show in Santa Fe.
Father of Jemez Pueblo potters Kathleen and Marcus Wall, as well as Jemez sculptor Adrian Wall, Stephen Wall is a well-known artist in his own right and a member of of the faculty at IAIA in Santa Fe.  He has been creating jewelry and art for the better part of thirty years. 
He and his wife Laura Fragua-Cota developed the concept of the “Techno-Dodem” earlier in the decade.   In the artist’s words, Techno-Dodems “represent the fusion of modern technology and neolithic sensibilities.”   The incorporation of stone and woodwork with recycled components from phones, computers and other technological devices serves to create innovative, fun, and thought-provoking works of art.
WATCH a full interview with Stephen Wall about Techno-Dodems HERE:

Female Native American Ledger Artists Infuse Male-Dominated Art Form with Gentility and Humor

A few months ago, I attended the 2010 Heard Museum Guild’s Indian Fair and Market in Phoenix.  As part of my successful “Heard @ The Heard 2010” blog series, I featured two of my favorite ledger artists Chris Pappan and Darryl Growing Thunder.  Afterwards, I received Facebook messages from Sheridan MacKnight and Dolores Purdy Corcoran–both female ledger artists–asking me when I was going to feature “us girls”on my blog.  I must be honest and say that I wasn’t even aware that female ledger artists existed.  Needless to say, I stand corrected!

A while back, we all met in person at an exhibition opening party at Legends Santa Fe and decided that the 2010 Native Treasures show would be the perfect place to make that happen. So, this past Saturday, with camera in tow, I sat down with two of the top “chicks” working in Native American ledger art today–MacKnight (Chippewa and Lakota) and Purdy Corcoran (Caddo and Winnebago)–to talk about the art form, it’s history,  how their work differs from their male counterparts’ and their perspectives on how they fit into an area of Native art dominated by men. 

I was surprised to learn that women have been doing ledger art since the beginning of the 20th Century.  While a great deal of ledger art glorifies the past, these ladies’ work honors tradition with reverence, but brings the form into the 21st Century with feminine beauty and softness, as well as humor. 

Enjoy the interview with MacKnight and Purdy Corcoran HERE.