By Alexis Estes
“Everything on earth is known as Wamakaskan Oyate, the living beings of the earth. The universe is known as Wicahpi Oyate, the star nation. These two represent the beings of the earth and the beings of the universe. For every creation there is on earth, there is another in the universe. Mitakuye Oasin, we are all related.”
This quotation is the main philosophy inspiring the designs of this artist room installation. The unity of all of creation is explored in this quote. It is a powerful reminder of respect and appreciation for all of existence. Spiritual leader and scholar, Albert White Hat, explained this philosophy through ceremony and classes at the Lakota tribal college, Sinte Gleska University.
The visual representations in this artist room allow for art to introduce Lakota philosophy and ideas in a format that is not limited to the definition of words of one language. The Lakota beadwork symbols on the south wall serve to honor the buffalo with the outline of a red hoof print, draw on the rolling plains with a green symbol for a hill, and unite these earthly experiences with the world above. The mirroring of the tipis on the north wall demonstrate the two dualities of our earth and the universe; dualities of life, which together create the whole of creations existence.
These traditional approaches to design meet contemporary with geometric style. Movement and energy are created with the angular direction of forms and their contrast of shades. The wide range of colors create a beautiful representation of nature. A stay in room “Mitakuye Oasin” allows viewers a moment to see earth and the cosmos in an enlightened way.
About Alexis Estes
Alexis Estes ties in traditional Lakota symbols and philosophy with geometric forms. She is born of mixed ancestry and an enrolled member of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe of Lower Brule, South Dakota. Alexis is currently a senior at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She will graduate this Spring 2017 with a Bachelors Degree in Indigenous Liberal Studies and a minor in Studio Arts. Her artistic style ties in traditional knowledge attained through her major study of Indigenous Liberal Studies, which is expressed through practices experienced in her minor study of Studio Arts.
Her main emphasis in Studio Arts is Printmaking, in which she creates screen-prints, intaglio-type prints, mono-types, and more. Her art practice began with traditional Lakota art forms, including; beadwork, leatherwork, building and painting rawhide containers, and sewing powwow and ceremonial regalia. She began taking Studio Arts classes at the University of South Dakota, and then took Traditional Lakota Arts classes at Sinte Gleska University in Mission, South Dakota. This knowledge of Lakota designs is applied into the range of contemporary art forms learned at the Institute of American Indian Arts. This has influenced the themes displayed in her art to include Lakota symbols and knowledge, and to contextualize history from an indigenous lens while at her present college, Institute of American Indian Arts.
Alexis’s mission is to practice and encourage self-expression in indigenous communities. Her studies in Indigenous Liberal Studies have enabled a greater worldview, including a more wholesome, diverse, and creative indigenous perspective. She seeks to share this viewpoint through traditional Lakota art forms, various forms of printmaking, and a new found passion for painting. It is the practice of liberation, through developing dreams and vision, that leads to manifestation and the creation of art. She hopes to inspire native youth to continue this practice of self- reflection and self-expression for the health and wellbeing of our communities.
With the incorporation of cosmic objects and the symbolism of liberated knowledge in geometric forms, Alexis seeks to tie traditional Lakota knowledge of the cosmos with contemporary art forms. There is geometry in nature, and the simplification of this geometry is exemplified in the forms painted in the room. In addition to this room, her works can be found at Fine Millennium Arts, a gallery by the Santa Fe plaza, and at the Institute of American Indian Arts bookstore on the IAIA campus.
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