A&E Briefs

Cherokee syllabary, art showcase

The “A Living Language: Cherokee Syllabary and Contemporary Art” exhibit at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian features over 50 works of art in a variety of media by over 30 Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) and Cherokee Nation artists. 

The exhibition highlights the use of the written Cherokee language, a syllabary developed by Cherokee innovator Sequoyah (circa 1776–1843). Cherokee syllabary is frequently found in the work of Cherokee artists as a compositional element or the subject matter of the work itself. 

The exhibition will be on view at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian in Cherokee through Oct. 31, and in the Asheville Art Museum’s Appleby Foundation Exhibition Hall from Nov. 18 to March 14. 

The Cherokee Syllabary is a system of writing developed by Sequoyah in the early 1800s prior to the Removal period. Through Sequoyah’s innovative work, Cherokee people embraced the writing system as an expedient form of communication and documentation. 

During the Removal period, the syllabary was used as a tactic to combat land dispossession. Cherokee people continue to use the syllabary as a form of cultural expression and pride, which is showcased in the contemporary artwork of the Cherokee Citizens in this exhibition.

“We are pleased to host this gathering of works from contemporary Cherokee artists, who perfectly illustrate how our language is a living and evolving part of who we are. It is moving to see how each artist finds inspiration in their own way from this language that connects us as Cherokee people,” said Shana Bushyhead Condill, executive director of the Museum of the Cherokee Indian.

“A Living Language: Cherokee Syllabary and Contemporary Art” is organized by the Asheville Art Museum and Museum of the Cherokee Indian, and curated by Joshua Adams, EBCI artist and independent curator, and Hilary Schroeder, assistant curator at the Asheville Art Museum. 

This project is made possible in part by a grant from the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Partnership, and sponsored in part by the Cherokee Preservation Foundation and Kevin Click and April Liou in memory of Myron E. Click.

Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians artists include Joshua Adams, Jody Lipscomb Bradley, Nathan Bush, Kane Crowe, John Henry Gloyne, Shan Goshorn, Luzene Hill, Christy Long, Louise Bigmeat Maney, Christopher McCoy, Tara McCoy, Joel Queen, Sean Ross, Jakeli Swimmer, Rhiannon Skye Tafoya, Mary Thompson, Stan Tooni Jr., Alica Wildcatt, and Fred Wilnoty.

Cherokee Nation artists include Roy Boney Jr., Jeff Edwards, Joseph Erb, Raychel Foster, Kenny Glass, Camilla McGinty, Jessica Mehta, America Meredith, Jane Osti, Lisa Rutherford, Janet L. Smith, Jennifer Thiessen, and Jennie Wilson.

Established in 1948, the Museum of the Cherokee Indian is one of the longest operating tribal museums. Recognized for its innovative storytelling, the Museum features exhibits, artwork, and hands-on technology that brings over 15,000 years of Cherokee history to life. 

Located in Cherokee, the museum is open daily except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Learn more by visiting www.mci.org.

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