'Re-Discovering Native America: Stories in Motion with The Red Road Project' at Beford Gallery

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'Re-Discovering Native America: Stories in Motion with The Red Road Project' at Beford Gallery
Installation view.

WALNUT CREEK, CA .- Bedford Gallery is presenting its latest exhibition, Re-Discovering Native America: Stories in Motion with The Red Road Project, a photo-docuseries which highlights and celebrates inspiring stories of present-day Native American individuals and communities by providing a platform for them to tell their stories of the past, present, and future in their own voices and words — which historically has not been the case. Including nearly 100 photographs and a selection of 3D works by acclaimed Native American artists, this exhibition explores contemporary narratives of Indigenous communities from across the United States. Re-Discovering Native America: Stories in Motion with The Red Road Project is on view through June 23, 2024, from 12:00pm-5:00pm, Wednesday through Sunday at Bedford Gallery inside the Lesher Center for the Arts.

Since founding the Red Road Project in 2013, multicultural friend-and-artist duo Danielle SeeWalker (Hunkpapa and Oglala Lakota) and Carlotta Cardana, who was born and raised in Northern Italy, have been committed to documenting the stories and teachings of contemporary Native people and communities who are enacting positive change and celebrating their cultural heritage despite the long, complicated historical trauma faced by Indigenous communities in the United States. Over the past eleven years, the artists have collected myriad stories and photographs in a wide range of topics including, Language, Land Connection, Reservation Life, Urban Natives, Two Worlds, Activism, and 7th Generation. In addition, the duo has also undertaken several in depth community projects including Isle de Jean Charles, Winnemem Wintu, and Our Mother is Crying.

For this exhibition, Bedford Gallery curated nearly 100 photographs and stories collected from 2013 to 2024 by The Red Road Project that highlight the beauty and resilience of Native American people and cultures throughout the United States and demonstrate Cardana and SeeWalker’s intent to “redirect the narrative to an accurate and insightful representation of contemporary Native America.” The title of the exhibition also aims to reclaim language and stories destroyed by non-Native narratives that fuel negative stereotypes and microaggressions. The featured images are a mix of landscape and portrait photographs, often of community activists and leaders who “walk the red road,” an expression found in many Native communities meaning “they are living life with purpose while on a path to positive change.”

As a continuation of The Red Road Project’s work, a new set of photographs and stories Cardana and SeeWalker collected during a two-week Bay Area residency in February 2024 will also be presented. The works tell the unique stories of Indigenous people based in Northern California with an emphasis on the Bay Area. The residency was sponsored by Bedford Gallery’s non-profit partner Diablo Regional Arts Association.

In addition to the collection of photographs, a selection of sculptural works by celebrated Native artists Danielle Boyer (Ojibwe), Gregg Deal (Pyramid Lake Paiute), Tyler Eash (Maidu), Chelsea Kaiah (White Mountain Apache and White River Ute), Brent Learned (Cheyenne-Arapaho), Dallin Maybee (Seneca and Northern Arapaho), Danielle SeeWalker (Hunkpapa and Oglala Lakota), Carmen Selam (Yakama and Comanche), and Anna Tsouhlarakis (Navajo and Creek) are on view.

Through this ongoing series, The Red Road Project aims to actively illustrate how Native American tribes and nations have overcome constant attempts of cultural genocide and acknowledge the residual scars of colonization, but more importantly, bring forth the impactful stories of resilience, resistance, and revitalization happening in those communities today.

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