Do you have an object you would never give up? Something that lives on your wall, your mantle, or buried in the corner of your dresser drawer? Something that evokes a time in your life, a place you miss, or something you hope for? These connections between people and their things are at the heart of the Museum's new installation, Object Stories.
Research has shown that engagement with cultural objects affirms Native American youth's sense of identity, which has been linked to better performance in school and a broad range of other personal positive effects. With nearly 40,000 Native Americans living in the Portland metropolitan area—over half of them under the age of 18—the Museum created an opportunity for a group of NAYA youth to explore their sense of identity and cultural pride through the Museum’s community-based interpretive platform of Object Stories.
Each participating student was asked to choose an object from the Museum’s Native American collection that resonated with them in some meaningful way, conduct research on the work, and then record their personal narratives about the artwork. The stories created by Native youth are being presented along with their selected artworks in the Museum’s Object Stories gallery as well as online at objectstories.org.
In addition to the student stories, three Oregon native mentors—including NAYA Cultural Arts Instructors and an elder from the Native community—recorded stories connected to objects in the collection, accessible to visitors via a new iPad listening station in the permanent collection galleries where these objects are on view.
The experiences and stories that are part of the "Listening to the Ancestors" project offer an alternative perspective on these beautiful works of Native American art and provide an avenue for understanding historic Native art in the context of the modern urban, Indian experience.
You can find the stories for this project by entering “NAYA” into the Search field at objectstories.org.