In The Round to bring ‘presence’ to Native American creative works
Two faculty members at BGSU created the event to bring Native American and Indigenous art to the forefront
With no federally recognized tribes in the state of Ohio, Native American cultures are often discussed in the past tense in this region — but two faculty members at Bowling Green State University had an idea to use contemporary art as means to bring Native cultures to the forefront.
In The Round, an annual speaker series that features creatives from Native American and Indigenous backgrounds, returns to BGSU this weekend to highlight all the ways in which creative disciplines can connect to wider audiences.
“Creativity connects with everybody,” said Jenn Stucker, an associate professor of graphic design and a co-creator of the event.
“How a person uses their creative skills to communicate something is public good. This is how we get stories out to one another and how we tell them in many different ways.”
The event will be headlined by Kevin Noble Maillard and Juana Martinez-Neal, the author and illustrator, respectively, of “Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story,” who will speak at 5:30 p.m. March 24 in Olscamp Hall 101. The event, which is open to the public, will have parking available in Lot N.
The pair will speak again at 10 a.m. March 25 at the Wood County District Public Library, where copies of the book will be made available to the first 100 families in attendance.
“For so long, there has been this perception of Native people being in the past,” said Heidi Nees, an assistant professor in the BGSU Department of Theater & Film and one of the event’s co-creators.
“We want to highlight presence: Present, contemporary contributions of Native American artists. For instance, with ‘Fry Bread,’ we have this wonderful book that can teach us not only about Native cultures, but also about family coming together.”
Instead of the depictions of Native Americans that are outdated and often stereotypical, Nees said giving voice to modern creatives allows audiences to experience new voices and new perspectives around Native cultures.
“Art responds to the world around us in so many different ways,” Nees said. “We thought inviting indigenous artists who use art as a means to engage with the world around us was a really good way for people to learn more about Native cultures.”
In The Round was conceptualized to feature Native American creatives who work in areas of art offered at BGSU: creative writing, music, art, design, theater and film.
With a wide range of artistic perspectives in the series, there are many entry points for audiences to experience and learn about Native cultures.
"What may connect with someone through writing might connect to someone else through music, or to someone else through a visual experience," Stucker said. "I think addressing the arts and coming through a creative space has given multiple different entry points for audiences to come see this work."
Updated: 03/24/2023 09:24AM