Aurora museum to highlight native veterans' patriotism
Among the many memorials in Washington, D.C., there is soon to be a new one to honor Native American veterans. Next week, an audience at an Aurora cultural museum is in line for a sneak peek.
The coordinator of the National Native American Veterans Memorial project is scheduled to share images and updates about the project at noon Friday, Feb. 1, at the university's Tapper Recital Hall, 347 W. Gladstone Ave., Aurora.
The presentation is part of a two-day series of events related to Native Americans, said Meg Bero, executive director and chief curator of the Schingoethe Center of Aurora University, a Native American cultural museum.
The discussion on the new memorial follows a 5 p.m. reception Thursday, Jan. 31, in which the museum will unveil its new exhibit, "BECOMING: Transformations in American Indian Art." It also follows a 6:45 p.m. lecture Thursday by Rebecca Head Trautmann, assistant curator of contemporary art at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., called "Taking Form: Material and Message in Native American Contemporary Art."
The exhibit will include what Bero calls "thought-provoking" and "beautiful" work including glass blowing, photography, ceramics, pottery, basketry made from Hollywood film strips and a "fully beaded skateboard." Some pieces show traditional forms of native art using unusual materials, while some keep the materials traditional yet freshen up the format.
"I'm very excited about this show," Bero said. "And I think it will be of great interest to folks."
Since Trautmann, also the coordinator of the National Native American Veterans Memorial, had already agreed to lecture at the exhibit's opening, Bero convinced her to discuss the memorial, too.
"It really is a culturally informative two days," Bero said. "This gives a broad cultural picture of American Indians today -- what's important to them."
The Aurora University Veterans Association helped plan Friday's session about the memorial. Jonathan Birkey, the organization's president, said it's great that the nation is constructing the memorial to give visibility to native veterans as a subset of all Americans who have served.
In addition to Trautmann's presentation about the memorial, Bero said Bolingbrook veteran Rick Holstein will speak Friday about the eagle staff, a Native American flag, and its significance in indigenous cultures.
Holstein is a native veteran whose tribal affiliations lie with the Anishinabe and White Earth groups. Birkey said he didn't meet any native veterans during his time in the Army, so he's eager to hear Holstein's perspectives.
"It will be wonderful to hear firsthand the experiences and the meanings, and for Rick, what it means to him -- what prompted him to serve his nation," Birkey said.
Friday's event also will celebrate the pride of Native Americans and highlight their history of military service.
"Native Americans are very patriotic," Bero said. "Their attachment to the land is something very important to them as our nation's indigenous peoples, and there are many veterans in the community."
All events during the two-day series on Native American art and veterans are free. Registration is appreciated at the Arts and Ideas page of Aurora University's website.