Mar 3, 2024 - Culture

Danielle SeeWalker's new exhibition seeks to challenge stereotypes

 A woman with a dark-brown face and a single eye look out with red hair and a yellow garment.

Artwork from the exhibition "Danielle SeeWalker: But We Have Something to Say" at History Colorado Center. Photo: Esteban L. Hernandez/Axios

The bright, neon blue words read as a declaration — and commentary: "This is Native Art."

Zoom in: Those words welcome visitors to Lakota artist Danielle SeeWalker's new exhibition at History Colorado Center, which seeks to shatter expectations for Indigenous and native art.

The big picture: SeeWalker, who's from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota, tells us her latest show, "Danielle SeeWalker: But We Have Something to Say," offers a contemporary presentation of native artwork.

  • It uses a combination of vibrant and pastel colors, which she says is "far" from more traditional native works, which often depict a person in a headdress or on a horse overlooking a canyon.

Between the lines: SeeWalker pulled items from History Colorado's permanent collection to showcase alongside her pieces, including old flour bags.

  • It's filled with history when viewed from an Indigenous lens: These bags were provided by the federal government to Native Americans as food rations after people were forced to live on reservations.
  • They often included flour, sugar, and lard — all foods SeeWalker said most native people had never consumed. Despite not receiving these specific staples, she says she also benefited from the federal program."

What they're saying: "I was inspired to sort of tell that story and uncover it and kind of bring that story alive to the forefront," SeeWalker tells us.

The fine print: A unique feature will be the text panels on her work, which will include language written in Lakota — something she says she hasn't seen at any other museum.

  • "It was really, really important for me to have the Lakota language be at the forefront of this exhibition," she tells us.
  • She hopes the panels can be used as tools for schools in the area teaching the language.

The bottom line: Since moving to Denver six years ago — drawn by the city's burgeoning art scene and native community — SeeWalker has completed multiple public art projects.

  • She recently finished a mural inside Empower Field at Mile High, and has painted works outside the Denver Indian Center and Four Winds American Indian Council building.

What's next: The exhibition runs through Sept. 15. Admission is $15

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