Shan Goshorn: In Loving Memory
Indigenous Goddess Gang would like to celebrate the life and work of a truly exceptional Indigenous femme artist, Shan Goshorn, who passed on December 1, 2018. Rest in Power Shan, thank you for all you have given to our world and the Native art community.
Shan Goshorn’s contemporary baskets made from paper are inspired by traditional techniques, shapes, patterns and functions of Cherokee baskets. Shan Goshorn examines and manipulates the material and authority of paper (and the written word) as a weapon aimed against Native Americans in the form of treaties, ancestry rolls, laws, restrictions, land allotment and more. By weaving baskets from a variety of reproduced historical documents, Goshorn’s work offers an opportunity to re-interpret penned history from an Indigenous point of view woven from tradition. -Excerpt from We Hold These Truths Artwork Statement
This River Runs Red
Approx 8” X 8” X 12”
Arches watercolor paper splints printed with archival inks, acrylic paint, artificial sinew
Traditionally, native women held positions highly revered in their communities, often respected as leaders, warriors and always as the bringers of life. However, after first contact, non-native men frequently viewed indigenous women as disposable sexual commodities. Based on today’s disproportionately higher rate of violence toward native women and a judicial reluctance to prosecute these crimes, it is a belief that appears to be ongoing.
Statistics in the U.S. indicate three in five native women will be
physically assaulted; 34% will be raped; on some reservations,
native women are murdered at more than ten times the national average; and U.S. attorneys declined to prosecute 67% of sexual abuse related cases. In Canada, a 2015 report by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RMCP) concluded 1,049 aboriginal women had been slain between 1980 and 2015, and that another 175 were considered missing. Patty Hajdu, Canadian Minister for the Status of Women, reported in 2017 that 4,000 would be a more realistic number based on a history of police under-reporting or failure to properly investigate cases. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reports that activists with the Walk 4 Justice initiative collected at least 4,232 names of missing or murdered indigenous women.
Although the numbers tell a story, revealing a tragic disparity that must be rectified, we must remember the persons behind the numbers. This Cherokee style single-weave basket was created not only to point to the statistics but also to humanize women who’ve lost their lives. Woven in the traditional pattern called “Water”, the vertical splints are printed with high stats of violence directed at native women in the U.S.; the horizontal splints compile the discrepancy in gathering such numbers in Canada. The interior is printed with the names and tribes, compiled by the CBC, of 306 murdered and missing women, cases the RCMP dismissed as solved. The families of these women dispute this resolution.
The Red River, which runs from Winnipeg, Canada to northern South Dakota, has become known as a place where the bodies of women are regularly recovered making its name (Red River) heartbreakingly fitting. Included on the front of the basket is a red-lined map of this river, a visual gash to serve as a reminder of this place where native women have been discarded and seemingly forgotten. It is time to recognize the humanity of these women, mourn the value of their lives and put a stop to this terror.
Sources: National Congress of American Indians (2013); US Department of Justice (1998); Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1998); Native Women’s Association of Canada/ Canada Public Broadcaster CBC NEWS (Feb 2016); The Guardian (Feb 2016); Walk 4 Justice/ Global News (Mar 2016); NPR National Public Radio (Aug 2016)
Tulsa Oklahomas based Eastern Band Cherokee artist Shan Goshorn’s multi-media work has been exhibited extensively in the US and abroad. Her baskets belong to prestigious collections such as the National Museum of the American Indian (Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC), Denver Art Museum (CO), Gilcrease Museum (OK), Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (NM), CN Gorman Museum (UC Davis, CA), Minneapolis Institute of Art (MN), Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art (IN), The Museum of the Cherokee Indian (NC), Surgut Museum of Art (Russia), and the Nordamerika Native Museum (Switzerland). She has been awarded top honors such as (selected) First Place Basketry at 2015 and 2014 SWAIA Indian Market, Best of Class at 2013 SWAIA Indian Market, 2013 Heard Museum Indian Fair and 2012 Cherokee Art Market; the Innovation Award at 2012 SWAIA Indian Market; and Grand Prize at 2011 Red Earth Indian Art Exhibition. Goshorn's painted photographs (many of which address stereotypes and racism) have toured Italy with the Fratelli Alinari "Go West" Collection, and have been exhibited in venues including York, England's Impression Gallery; twice in NYC's American Indian Community House Gallery (once in a three person show entitled "Dispelling the Myth; Controlling The Image" and again in a two person show about repatriation called “Ghost Dance”); the Wheelwright Museum (NM); the Franco-American Institute in Rennes, France; the International Arts Alive Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa; and “BIRD 2005” in Beijing, China. In 2006 and again in 2009, she was one of 25 international, indigenous artists asked to present work at the conference Our People, Our Land, Our Images and Visual Sovereignty hosted by the CN Gorman Museum at the University of CA at Davis.
Shan has served on the Board of Directors of the American Indian Heritage Center (OK) as the first vice chair and of NIIPA (Native Indian/Inuit Photographer's Association, Canada), and has been appointed by the mayor to serve on the Greater Tulsa Indian Affairs Commission and the Arts Commission of Tulsa. She has also served on the Second Circle Advisory Board of the national native arts network ATLATL and as a consultant to the Philbrook Museum of Art (OK) for their touring basketry exhibition, Woven Worlds. Presently she is serving in an advisory position for the Tulsa City/County Library for their American Indian Collection, including the American Indian Festival of Words native author award.
Shan Goshorn was the recipient of the 2015 United States Artist Fellowship, 2014 Natives Arts and Culture Artist Fellowship, 2013 Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship, the 2013 Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship, and the 2013 SWAIA Discovery Fellowship.