NATIONAL ATTENTION FOR CHEROKEE ARTIST’S SCULPTURE

Luzene Hill’s work featured in major touring exhibit of Native American art

A sculpture installation by Eastern Band Cherokee artist Luzene Hill ’07 MFA ’12 is included in “Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 3,” an exhibit of contemporary Native American art currently touring the United States and Canada. The exhibit’s final venue is the University of Michigan Museum of Art in Ann Arbor, where it will be on display through Sept. 14. The Michigan show concludes a three-part series of exhibits organized over a 10-year period by the Museum of Arts and Design in New York.

Luzene Hill

Hill’s featured work, “Becoming,” depicts adolescent girls being pulled into the night sky to become the Pleiades star cluster. The figures are tied with strips of silk (prayer ribbons) in pinks, reds and silver representing transformation from human to star.

Hill describes “Becoming” on her Facebook page: “Native American myths about the constellations are richly descriptive and varied, but have common themes and structure,” she writes. “The Pleiades constellation has inspired many myths and was important to agrarian societies. It was observed most clearly in the spring at planting time and in the fall at harvest. Star stories created familial connections to a higher power.”

Since 2010, Hill has begun to focus on work that “explores silence, being silenced; in the context of endangered Native American culture and language, as well as the profound impact of silence that surrounds the issue of violence against women,” she said. “My goal is to provoke an ongoing dialogue about violence against women that outlasts my ephemeral work, in the hope this crime is not tacitly condoned by our collective silence,” she said.

In addition to being a sculptor and installation artist, Hill also is an illustrator. Three children’s books published for WCU’s Cherokee Studies Language Revitalization Project, “The Grouchy Old Lady,” “Spearfinger” and “Bear Man,” feature her illustrations.