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Clemson’s first annual indigenous artist talk

Clemson University // Courtesy
Indigenous Annotations Lab Spring Symposium.

On Friday, April 21, Clemson partnered with Cherokee artists for the first-ever Indigenous Annotations Lab Spring Symposium. The symposium included the artist talk event where Cherokee artists Skye Tafoya, Jakeli Swimmer and Jamison Chas Banks discussed their art and gave readings.
“When I enter rooms, I see patterns; that’s where artistically I bring things from. I look at a space, and I’m able to see lines. And when I see a landscape, I see things that have a sense of belonging to my experiences,” Tafoya shared with the audience when discussing the art of basketry.
“I don’t feel too much of a connection to them because I see it so often, and I see it through tattoos, and I see it through people who don’t even have basketry in their family or understand what it takes to make a basket or what it takes to harvest to make a basket, and so with my own design work I want to be able to connect personally with all of the things I make,” Tafoya stated when asked about deviating from traditional designs.
“For me, I can be academic sometimes and write and write and write, and it takes a lot to sensitize an idea and get it out there, but then when you’re writing things in that academic sense, you’re excluding the people that you’re trying to talk for and what cartooning does for me is allow that imagery to speak more than words can. It’s a reflection of what you see,” Swimmer, a cartoonist, shared.
While discussing creating a positive learning environment, especially through Native collaboration, Banks discussed his previous project with another contemporary artist where he created a space “treated like a sanctuary.” The sanctuary was filled with flowers, plants and screen-printed scrolls and was open to the public.
“It’s an offering. We’re not asking for anything in return. There is nothing required of you but to participate. I like to focus more on not what can be seen, but what can be felt,” Banks states.
Friday’s events were organized by Clemson faculty, Matt Hooley and Santee Frazier of the English department, and Kelsey Sheaffer from the library.

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Sydney Smith
Sydney Smith, Asst. TimeOut Editor
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