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Gifts from our ancestors

— GOLDENDALE — Young artists will showcase artwork inspired by traditions of the Columbia River at a traveling exhibit opening Saturday, Sept. 7, at Maryhill Museum of Art.

As part of the museum’s Family Fun Day, the Gifts from Our Ancestors exhibit will kick off with a performance by artist

Foster Kalama (Wasco/Nisqually/Pit River/Klikitat/Nez Perce/Hawaiian) at 1 p.m., followed by a free drum-making demonstration and workshop.

On view will be select examples of student art created in the Gifts from Our Ancestors program, including digital storytelling, ceramic masks, documentary films, books of poetry, multi-media journals, tile mosaics, film costumes and props, watercolor paintings, clay sculptures, collaged story circles, painted wood salmon, and tule weavings.

From 2 to 4 p.m., Kalama, great-great-grandson of Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce, will lead an artist talk and workshop including drum-making demonstration and hands-on art program.

On Family Fun Days youth 18 and under are admitted to the museum free all day with one paid adult admission.

Gifts from Our Ancestors is a place-based, K-12, arts-education program that features multiple forms of artistic and oral expression practiced by Native Americans along the Columbia River. The program incorporates shared knowledge and traditional art practices of tribal artists and culture bearers into classrooms. Throughout the 2012-2013 school year, 41 teachers and 1,900 students collaborated with local Native American artists on 15 projects that explored themes of cultural and ecological sustainability of the Columbia River Basin. Artworks on display tell the story of each project, resulting in a permanent gift by the school to its community. With project stipends awarded by the Confluence Project, participating schools engaged in over 80 cultural/artist visits and received $45,000 in direct project support.

About the Confluence Project

The Confluence Project employs place-based art as the lens through which to explore confluences of culture, environment, and regional heritage of the Columbia River and its tributaries. We are a collaborative effort of Pacific Northwest Tribes, acclaimed artist Maya Lin, and local communities from Oregon and Washington to reclaim public spaces of cultural, physical, and ecological significance to the Columbia River Basin. We do this through public art installations, environmental restoration, and educational programming. Four of the six planned sites featuring art by Maya Lin have been completed. In 2010, these sites served 1.7 million+ visitors at Cape Disappointment (Ilwaco, WA), Vancouver Land Bridge (Vancouver, WA), Sandy River Delta (Troutdale, OR), Sacajawea (Clarkston, WA). Chief Timothy and Celilo Parks will be complete in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

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