Tuesday January 28, 2014 | by Samuel Paul

EXHIBIT: Joe Feddersen explores the intersection of Native American traditions and contemporary life

FILED UNDER: Exhibition

UPDATED: February 6, 2014

The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation in the Pacific Northwest are well-known for their geometric patterns as well as their textile traditions. A contemporary artist affiliated with this group, Joe Feddersen brings a strong background in printmaking to his work which often involves glass as well. What makes Feddersen so different is his creativity in mixing traditional patterns and textiles with current cultural iconography. Feddersen’s work has been exhibited in Washington D.C. at the National Museum of American Indian, and his work is currently in a group show at the Art Gym at Marylhurst College in Marylhurst, Oregon, entitiled "I.M.N.D.N. — Native Art for the 21st Century." He is simultaneously featured in a solo gallery exhibition "Charmed” now on view at the Froelick Gallery in Portland, Oregon. His fused glass objects in the exhibit resemble several constellations of stars — glimmering with the reflection of light and casting intriguing shadows on the walls and ground. Other works involve bold patterning on glass vessels referencing QR codes, high-voltage power lines, and other aspects of 21st-century life.

When most people think of Native American Art, they picture colorful elaborately made blankets or earthenware vessels. However, Native American art has drastically changed over the centuries and Feddersen helps remind us of the fact that art can be contemporary while also referencing traditional systems of meaning, updating and juxtaposing them with contemporary experiences.

In the "Charmed" exhibit, 168 fused glass charms made into different images and symbols are suspended from the gallery’s ceiling. Feddersen uses symbology such as human stick figures wearing cowboy hats, skulls, animals, sunglasses and even small planes, referencing issues that belie their apparent whimsy.

"Charmed is an installation of fused glass icons," says Feddersen in a prepared statement. "Initially, I proposed a wind chime, an array of petroglyphs, or a collection of charms. This incorporates all three. The charms pulled from pop culture, personal experience, and historic native petroglyphs, depict the complex landscape we navigate. Icons like the parking lot overlap with the sign of biohazard, traditional native petroglyphs, electrical towers, even tipis. Petroglyphs become real as shadows on the walls and floors. The tinkling sounds of a chandelier can be heard when air movement makes the parts touch - a wind chime. Touching on the personal and universal, contemporary and historic, Charmed, in the form of a blanket or curtain addresses the complex relationship to place."

—Samuel J. Paul

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article has been revised to correct the venue for the second exhibition -- it is at Marylhurst University in Marylhurst, Oregon.



Joe Feddersen
Through January 31, 2014
Froelick Gallery
714 NW Davis Street
Portland, Oregon 97209
Group Exhibition
"I.M.N.D.N. — Native Art for the 21st Century"
Through February 14, 2014
Marylhurst University
17600 Pacific Highway (Hwy. 43)
P.O. Box 261
Marylhurst, OR 97036-0261

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