2021 K-State Common Work of Art
Each year, the K-State Book Network selects a common reading for first year students, providing an intellectual experience they can share with other students and members of the university community. The 2021 K-State First Book is The Marrow Thieves by Canadian author Cherie Dimaline (Métis). Beach Museum of Art staff have selected the print From Upstream I Caught Fish by Neal Ambrose-Smith to complement Dimaline’s story. Like Dimaline, visual artist Ambrose-Smith (Salish Kootenai, Métis-Cree, Sho-Ban) addresses loss of culture, abuse and violence by a majority population and damage to the natural environment while also celebrating survival and resilience.
In a futuristic world ravaged by global warming, people have lost the ability to dream, and the dreamlessness has led to widespread madness. The only people still able to dream are North America’s Indigenous people, and it is their marrow that holds the cure for the rest of the world. However, getting the marrow, and dreams, means death for the unwilling donors. Driven to flight, a fifteenyear-old and his companions struggle for survival, attempt to reunite with loved ones, and take refuge from the “recruiters” who seek to bring them to marrow-stealing “factories.”
Like the character Miigwan in Dimaline’s book, Ambrose-Smith tells stories. His work often includes elements drawn from Indigenous knowledge and experience, including medicine bundles, canoes, the Trickster figure Coyote, and trailer homes. Images from the present overlay those from the past, since we can only understand our current state by understanding our cultural influences, according to the artist. Ambrose-Smith is a professor and department head at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Livestream Student Welcome/Common Work of Art/K-State First Book Celebration with Tara Coleman, associate professor, Hale Library; Brandon Haddock, coordinator, LGBT Resource Center; Lisa Tatonetti, professor, Department of English; and Kathrine Schlageck, associate curator of education, Beach Museum of Art.
Thursday, September 2, 2021, 5:30 p.m.
Click here to watch the recorded program.
Image: Neal Ambrose-Smith (Salish-Kootenai, Métis-Cree, Sho-Ban), From Upstream I Caught Fish, 2008, etching and transfer on paper, gift of Joe and
Barb Zanatta, Zanatta Editions, 2009.136