“Talking Walls” Project Connects Native American Artists, Youth
Over the weekend of February 21, 2021, Rex grantee Color Outside the Lines brought three incredible Native American artists who live in the Pacific Northwest together with youth from the Native American Youth Association and the larger community in a special mural project, “Talking Walls,” held at Greenway Park in Tualitin, Oregon.
The collaborative mural art tells a story rooted from the artist’s heritage and culture. This specific series is meant to celebrate the Native culture, while sharing traditional art and storytelling with youth and the community. This project was geared at honoring the meaningful Native American heritage that can serve any community member regardless of their cultural background or racial identity. The event aimed to bring together youth and artists of similar backgrounds, giving them an opportunity to share conversation , creativity, and lessons of their shared heritage.
Color Outside the Lines offered lunch, art kit bags, and other art activities to participating youth. They also created talking sticks to calm anxiety that participants took home, and painted rocks that will go in the message garden at the park.
Each artist’s background story that accompanied their art was at the event; each story will be written on a plaque installed next to the paintings so the community can visit these vibrant pieces and learn about the meaning behind them. This art will be up for years to come so the public can enjoy the installation and stories behind them.
Rudy RedStone Serna is originally from the Huichol and Guachichile Tribes of Mexico and now lives in Portland, Oregon. “The mural as a whole is meant to honor and respect the ancestors of the Americas by sharing some elements of their diverse and yet common culture. I will describe the mural from left to right. The South American condor flies towards the center. The patterns in the background are both Inca and Mayan. The pyramid below is from the Guatemalan lowlands and next to it is the quetzal bird flying upward. Next is a mexica symbol for corn and the pattern behind the tree of life is Aztec. Next is a teepee and in the middle a buffalo skull. Up above is a Chinook basket pattern and next to it is a Kalapuya one. Next to the skull are evergreens that become the Columbia gorge and a salmon with an Inuit design splashes out of the water. On the right side the American bald eagle flies towards the center to meet the condor. And in the bottom right corner is a lone wolf howling.
Pattrick Price, of the Kaá Yaán Uk Tlingit tribe from the islands and fjords of southeast Alaska, where he was born and raised, is a painter, muralist, and Native American storyteller who lives in Eugene, Oregon. “Sunset Hummingbird depicts a brilliant, multi-colored, form line designed hummingbird with an arching red, orange, and yellow gradient background. In Native American culture, hummingbirds are seen as healers and bringers of love, good luck, and joy. The hummingbird totem has been used in my culture throughout history to teach us to enjoy life, and to keep ourselves light and free. This painting is my depiction of the original form line designs from my Southeast Alaska/Tlingit heritage with warm and colorful inspirations from my residence in Oregon in the fall season.”
Toma Villa is a muralist, painter, carver, and sculptor from the Yakama Nation, who currently resides north of Seattle. His piece is a large painting for an elk riding on the back of a sturgeon. The story behind his piece: “It’s about Elk and how he wanders the land and over and over again. He makes his way back to the Big River and looks across to the other side. He looks into the water and sees all the salmon swimming and thinks he can walk across on their backs but his hoofs keep sliding off and he falls into the water. Sturgeon sees this and swims up and asks Elk what he’s doing. Elk replies ‘I’ve seen everything on this side of the river, I want to see what’s on the other side.’ Sturgeon tells Elk that she could get him across on her back but she needed something from Elk for the ride across the river. Elk pulls a piece of himself and gives it to Sturgeon and the big fish puts it in her mouth. Elk climbs on her back and doesn’t fall off because Sturgeon’s skin is rough. So Sturgeon with Elk on her back began swimming across the river and as she swam that piece of Elk that was in her mouth became her cheeks. Elk made it across and was able to continue exploring and Sturgeon now has stronger muscles to help her feed more on the freshwater clams she so dearly loves.”