Native artist connects traditions in McClelland Gallery

When Jovannah Poor Bear-Adams first started creating Navajo pottery at the Holbrook Seventh-day Adventist School, it was just a craft to her. It was a way for her to fill up empty hours and make a little extra cash. However, since then it has become much, much more. According to Poor Bear-Adams, creating traditional art is "how I connect to my Native American heritage."

Now a senior English education major, Poor Bear-Adams' art is currently on display at the McClelland Art Gallery, featuring a mix of Lakota and Navajo-style crafts, clothing and pottery. Included in the exhibit are three traditional dance outfits, over twenty pieces of pottery and a medley of other items, including a fan, a hand-beaded purse and a cradle board. All pieces were created by Poor Bear-Adams or her parents, to whom she attributes her inspiration.

Poor Bear-Adams meshes her Christian beliefs and her native culture. "When I was baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church, I was afraid that I had lost what was Native in me. I struggled for years with my identity," she said in her artist's statement. "I assumed that Lakota heritage and God could not mix." But now she believes that they can. "As you walk through this gallery, I hope you notice who I am through the pieces ... how I have connected my worlds together. But above all, I hope you discover how God connects our worlds together."

The display will be up from February 6-20, 2011. All pieces except the dance outfits are for sale. For more information about the art or how to purchase it, contact the artist at 619.729.9212. 

The McClelland Art Gallery is in the Ortner Center on the Union College campus, 3800 S. 48th Street. Enter the campus from Prescott Avenue. The art gallery is free to the public and open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, contact the Ortner Center at 402.486.2545.