Mechoopda artist challenges assimilation of indigenous culture through printmaking

Work By Jacob A. Meders. This work is on display at the Jackie Headley Art Gallery Photo credit: Alex Coba

Work By Jacob A. Meders. This work is on display at the Jackie Headley Art Gallery Photo credit: Alex Coba

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Companion exhibitions “Mǝǝmento: Before” and “Aksum Belle: Afterwards” made their debut at Chico State’s Janet Turner Print Museum and Jackie Headley Art Gallery this week.

The art displayed varies from printmaking to sculptures, both challenging the assimilation of Indigenous people and expressing the identity and resilience of Native people from around the world.

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Work By Jacob A. Meders. This work is on display at the Jackie Headley Art Gallery Photo credit: Alex Coba

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Warbird Press by Jacob A. Meders. This series of prints are being displayed at the Janet Turner Print Museum Photo credit: Alex Coba

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TOTE By Jacob A. Meders. This work is a part of the TOTE (The Order of the Eagle) series being displayed in the Janet Turner Print Museum Photo credit: Alex Coba

Guest curator Jacob Meders, a Native of the Mechoopda-Maidu tribe, describes his exhibitions as a “call and response,” according to a press release, as the artwork is presented in adjacent galleries. His exhibition is also displayed to the public through newspaper vending machines dispersed throughout Chico. These prints demand social engagement of Meders’ indigenous concepts and themes.

Meders harnesses the dated practice of newspaper printing to communicate with his desired audience on a broader and more modern scope. Printmaking, although not a Native form of art, is a complex type of art that requires expertise and precision.

“With prints, you get multiple, they’re not copies of each other,” museum curator Catherine Sullivan, Head of Archive, said. “They’re originally taken from the same base, so they’re all the same, but because they’re done the same way by the same person, that’s what makes them multiple and original. Even if there’s fifty of them, they’re all original.”

“Mǝǝmento: Before” displays an assortment of prints of art from various Native artists including prints from Mechoopda artists, First People of Alaska, First People of Australia and First People of Canada. Across the hall, “Aksum Belle: Afterwards” presents vibrant sculptures that fill the gallery room to the brim.

Indigenous voices are often underrepresented within curated galleries, which is part of the reason why Meders’ exhibition was chosen to be displayed at Chico State.

“My point of view of doing this exhibition was very much in the line of having a native person, especially a local native person, have access to the collection and do this kind of exhibition, which allows a different voice,” Sullivan said. “I could have picked the same pieces, but would have said different things about them because I’m from a different culture and time period.”

“Mǝǝmento: Before” and “Aksum Belle: Afterwards” will both remain open for viewing until Feb. 23. Jacob Meders will be coming to Zingg Recital Hall on Feb. 7 and Janet Turner Print Museum on Feb. 9 to speak about his exhibitions. Check in with Janet Turner Print Museum for additional information on Meders’ exhibition and future collections to be displayed.

Rayanne Painter can be reached at [email protected]theorion.com or @rayphenomenon on Twitter.

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