Gustavus moving forward: indigenizing institutions

Leah ThompsonStaff Writer

As part of Native American Heritage Month, guest speaker Taylor Rose Payer will be giving the talk “Indigenizing Institutions” at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 18, in the President’s Dining Room. The event is open to the public and is sponsored by the National Endowment for The Humanities and The President’s Council on Indigenous Relations (PCIR).

Taylor Rose Payer is a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa and is a curator and art historian working on her PhD at the University of Minnesota. Payer received her B.A. in Women and Gender Studies from Dartmouth College and her M.A. in Public Humanities from Brown University.

At the U of M, Payer studies twentieth-century Native North American art and material culture along with global representations of Indigenous people, art, and culture. Payer’s current research interests include Native women textile artists, global circulation of Indigenous art from the Great Lakes region, and other related topics.

While an undergrad, Payer interned at the Hood Museum of Art which is owned and operated by Dartmouth College. The museum has an extensive collection with over 65 thousand objects that represent a variety of backgrounds and cultures. According to the online flier, “[Dartmouth is] where she developed a deep interest in collections, art, and museum education.”

Since undergrad, Payer has curated, researched, and educated at many art museums across the United States, including the Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art, the Portland Art Museum, the Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens, New York, the Walker Art Center, and the All My Relations Arts Gallery.

Payer also co-curated the exhibition “Reframing Minnesota: Beyond a Single Art Story,” which focuses on diverse perspectives from a variety of groups in Minnesota that have been historically overlooked.

In addition to Payer’s curations, her writing can be found in Manual, Monuments Now, and First American Art Magazine.

With Payer’s interests regarding representation, her talk “Indigenizing Institutions” will focus on her experience working to build relationships between Native communities, artists, museums, and archives by encouraging institutions to include work from people from a wide array of backgrounds.

During her talk she will open a discussion surrounding museums as sites of Indigenous memory, cultural renewal, and artistic engagement.

The “Indigenizing Institutions” talk is part of an ongoing series that the Department of Art & Art History at Gustavus is highlighting about interpretation, display, and the storage of art by Native American artists.

“In order to align our campus collections with institutional efforts towards Indigenous reconciliation, we are working on an object-based art history initiative to conduct a provenance audit of our archival and museum collections,” Professor of Art & Art History Colleen Stockmann said.

The Art & Art History Department at Gustavus is in the process of creating a digital resource which will store and display artworks and artifacts that will eventually be open to the public in order to allow a greater population to access the pieces.

In order to continue Indigenizing the college, the Department of Art & Art History and the Library and Archives departments have teamed up to continue to ensure that Gustavus recognizes its settler history and seeks to create a sense of inclusivity and community.

“The library and archives have been working on making sure that subject headings are used to make items more visible as well as using more inclusive controlled vocabularies to help decolonize our catalog,” Archives Collections and Records Manager Adrianna Darden said.

In addition to the college’s effort to include an Indigenous perspective in several departments across campus, the PCIR held seven events during the month of November to honor and celebrate Native American Heritage Month.

Between 11:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 18 in the President’s Dining Room, Taylor Rose Payer will be hosting her talk “Indigenizing Institutions”. This event is free and will be open to the general public.