- Associated Press - Saturday, April 11, 2015

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) - Art, science and culture will combine in “Native Skywatchers - Earth Sky Connections,” a series of 12 free art workshops and classes led by four artists with Native American heritage.

“For me personally, as an astronomer and an artist, I feel that art is to me about this expression that comes from the heart and a lot from our own experience,” Annette Lee told the St. Cloud Times (https://on.sctimes.com/1FizRTO ). “The science is kind of like the counter-balance to that, where the science is about logical thinking, linear thinking. But it also has some magic and some things that are amazing.”

Lee, a painter and an associate professor of astronomy and physics at St. Cloud State University, secured the $25,000 Minnesota State Arts Board grant that’s funding the series.

Four workshops will be in St. Cloud, including two open to the public and two at Kennedy Community School. The rest are at the Duluth Art Institute, the Mille Lacs Indian Museum near Onamia and Fond du Lac Ojibwe School in Cloquet.

During her presentation, “As it Is Above; It Is Below,” Lee will talk about constellations and Native American star knowledge while painters (organizers encourage beginners to attend) create a piece that ties constellations to a season. She plans to bring a solar telescope to augment the hands-on science.

When she teaches astronomy or runs a St. Cloud State Planetarium program, Lee sees excitement and curiosity run through the audience. Through “Native Skywatchers - Earth Sky Connections,” she aims to spark interest in both art and science.

“What I see is that they’re both equally powerful, and in our time, our civilization has really kind of shut down or put aside the art part as maybe an extra or just a hobby or not so important. The technology has sort of reigned the day, and we have all of the high-paying jobs in the sciences - and that’s great. But I really feel as human beings that we have both parts to our being, our existence,” Lee said.

St. Joseph-based artist Anne Meyer, who incorporates drawing into her clay work, will bring raw materials from her farm to use in her sessions, “Be Humble for You Are Made of Earth.” Meyer will share the Minnesota geology lessons she learned, which explain where clay is found, how it got there and how it was made.

The knowledge helps put the session in context.

Participants will hand-build a pot using a coil method used not only to make pre-settlement Oneota ceramics but also currently used around the world where pots are hand-built. A wooden paddle wrapped in cords will give the pots texture as it compresses and strengthens the clay.

Most clay potters use today comes from a source in Georgia. The vein on Meyer’s property likely marks a former route of the Sauk River. She processes it herself, which can take three to eight weeks, depending on drying time.

“I hope that they walk away with a newfound interest and appreciation in the people that called Minnesota home before it was settled and continue to live out and celebrate their culture. I want people to be exposed to the native cultures that are a part of Minnesota also,” Meyer said.

“I would hope they would maybe come away with a better understanding of the geology behind the landscape that they call home and maybe the feeling of, ‘Oh, now I know why this is the way it is.’ “

Other experts are involved in the Native Skywatchers workshops and classes in Duluth, Cloquet and near Onamia.

William Wilson, culture and language consultant for Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College, will lead “Seeing the Unseen - Ojibwe X-Ray Paintings,” focused on the Woodland style of painting and how it relates to the stars.

Jeff Tibbetts, an artist inspired by his Ojibwe culture, will lead “Carving Your Animal Clan,” focused on carving a stone related to the Ojibwe clan system.

“The idea, too, is to be wider in our thinking and trying to get people that wouldn’t normally think of themselves as quote-unquote ‘artists’ or art people, but when we start to talk about the stars and broaden the circle, more people are interested,” Lee said.

Lee aims to pursue National Science Foundation or NASA grants that would incorporate more of a science lesson into the workshops.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide