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WSU Gallery exhibit showcases modern Native American art

Date: 7/25/2012

By G. Michael Dobbs

WESTFIELD — If your perception of Native American art is restricted to traditional crafts such as pottery, beadwork and basketry, the new exhibit at the Westfield State University Downtown Art Gallery might change your mind.

One side of the gallery the primarily black and white paintings of Nayana Glazier are featured, while on the opposite wall colorful geometric paintings of Melissa Staiger provide a fascinating contrast. Dan Loudfoot's series of photos of a single eagle feather adds an iconic symbol that most people recognize as Native American.

"It's something the public is not used to seeing," Prof. Faith Lund, the gallery's curator, told Reminder Publications.

Lund is the gallery's curator and she said the exhibition, which opened last week, was coordinated with Stanley Park's fourth annual Cultural Illumination.

The parks, Lund added, will be presenting Grammy-nominated musicians Kerry Merrick Jr. performing in concert, "Music and Dances form the Heart," featuring Native American themes from 6:30 to 9 p.m. July 27, at the Beveridge Pavilion Annex.

Lund said putting together the exhibition was a "long process," as the artists live out of the area.

The gallery is part of the university's redevelopment efforts in downtown Westfield and Lund said, "It's out chance to connect more closely with the community and the bring the university to the community."

Glazier is part of the Anishnabek tribe of the Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve in Canada. She said she started painting as child, but began focusing more on photography while in college. She dropped out of school and returned back to her first love of painting.

When asked how photography influenced her work, she said the composition of the painting is based on photo compositions. Her use of black, white and grays provides the same kind of contract one has in black and white photography, she added.

In several of her painting, she does use color, which she explained could physically divide the image, but it still can have a cohesive meaning.

She said her Native heritage is reflected in her paintings.

"Every bit of you is reflected in your work," she said.

"Spotlighting Native Americans" collection will remain at the gallery until Aug. 11. Westfield State University Downtown Art Gallery is located at 105 Elm St. Regular gallery hours are: Tuesday through Friday, 2 to 5 p.m., Thursday, 2 to 7 p.m. and Saturday, 1 to 5 p.m.

For more information, call 572-4400 or visit