Char-Koosta News

The Official Publication of the Flathead Nation online

December 16, 2010

Salish Kootenai College offers degree and certificate in Fine Arts

By Lailani Upham

Welded metal turtle sculpture designed by SKC art student, Jason Schwarz, was on display for the quarterly art show at the Three Woodcocks building last week. The Welded Metal Sculpture classes are taught by instructors Jay Labor and Glen Aragon. (Lailani Upham photo)
Welded metal turtle sculpture designed by SKC art student, Jason Schwarz, was on display for the quarterly art show at the Three Woodcocks building last week. The Welded Metal Sculpture classes are taught by instructors Jay Labor and Glen Aragon. (Lailani Upham photo)

PABLO — Salish Kootenai College launched a new program this past fall that is possibly known as the only college with a strong combination of Native Studies, arts and studio arts, according to Corwin Clairmont SKC Art Department Head.

This year SKC offers an Associate of Arts and Certificate of Completion in Fine Arts.

Clairmont began teaching art classes 16 years ago with only two classes offered. Today there are over 20 art classes offered from Beginning Watercolors to Drumming and Singing courses. Although many of the Native American art courses have been available year after year, the option of receiving a degree was not.

Light green star quilt and pillow shams designed by SKC student Corina Wolf Black was on display and up for sale during the SKC art show last week. Students have an option to sell or keep their artwork that go on display at the end of the quarter but according to displayed items, most students opt to not sell. The Star Quilt Making class is taught by instructor Linda King. (Lailani Upham photo)
Light green star quilt and pillow shams designed by SKC student Corina Wolf Black was on display and up for sale during the SKC art show last week. Students have an option to sell or keep their artwork that go on display at the end of the quarter but according to displayed items, most students opt to not sell. The Star Quilt Making class is taught by instructor Linda King. (Lailani Upham photo)

Clairmont said the degree is a starting point for students to transfer to a Fine Arts program at larger university. “Two years is not enough but a beginning and it (A.A. degree) is easy to add to a Bachelor of Arts program,” Clairmont explained.

According to SKC art department, students receive a quality professional post secondary art experience in skill development, appreciation, and creation of traditional and contemporary native art and studio art.

Students are not only taught the history of Native art of the Salish, Kootenai cultures and time periods but of different tribal art, and different countries from ancient times to present.

Clairmont says the art department is fortunate to have a full staff of highly recognized state and internationally known artists working with the students.

Sally Bags on display are designed and crafted with colorful yarns and cordage by students in the Sally Bag Weaving class taught by instructor Eva Boyd. (Lailani Upham photo)
Sally Bags on display are designed and crafted with colorful yarns and cordage by students in the Sally Bag Weaving class taught by instructor Eva Boyd. (Lailani Upham photo)

Eva Boyd, CSKT tribal member and an instructor of Sally Bag Weaving was recognized this year from the state of Montana as a Master Artist, Clairmont said.

Boyd says she learned to make Sally Bags and Split Cedar Root baskets by watching her grandmother, Mary Louise Paul. She also teaches Cornhusk Weaving and learned artistic methods from a lady out of Wellpinit, Washington. Boyd is a member of the Northwest Basket Association and her work is highly recognized throughout the area.

Jay Labor, Welded Metal Sculpture instructor is known for his metal sculptures on the Blackfeet Reservation entrances and other works across the state.

Labor’s class, Reservation Art includes any type of art related to reservation life from past to present that is solely the students idea. Labor said students are able to design or make almost anything in his class and his job is to coach them through it. Students end up creating anything from metal sculptures to drums, to bustles to flutes to atlatl’s, he explained.

Clairmont mentioned Glen Aragon, an emerging local welded sculpture artist whose work is displayed on campus and across Flathead reservation. His recent work will be displayed on the newly built Polson Tribal Clinic.

Several sketch works were displayed in a studio lit hallway throughout the Woodcock Building from SKC Art Department Head Corwin Clairmont's drawing class. (Lailani Upham photo)
Several sketch works were displayed in a studio lit hallway throughout the Woodcock Building from SKC Art Department Head Corwin Clairmont's drawing class. (Lailani Upham photo)

Clairmont raved about Rachel Bowers as an internationally known beadwork artist that has been recognized in several shows and exhibits Bowers’ work also includes honored writings from the Smithsonian and the National Historic Society.

Bowers bio includes fond memories and great experiences of working with Agnes Vanderburg for 23 years at the Vanderburg Camp located in Valley Creek. Bowers mentions how Vanderburg ran nine different stations and still cooked for everyone at the camp three times a day.

Bowers’ drive to teach beading can be known as one of justice and restoration, “When I first started beading it was a dying art. There were 15 elders left that knew how to bead. Beading was always handed down and the more I looked it was being lost.”

Linda King, Salish, is recognized nationally for her exquisite beadwork, native regalia and quilt work and has been teaching throughout the Flathead Reservation for the past 23 years.

Year after year the SKC art department proudly display student artwork at the end of each quarter for the public to gander and a chance for the students to sell their work if they choose, Clairmont said. It also gives the student an opportunity to “be professional” about how to market and get their work out there, he added. However, most students choose to hold on to their artwork, which is usually their first design/piece, Clairmont stated.

A bustle on display from the Jay Labor's Reservation Art class, designed by Sugar Bear First Strike. Labor said students are allowed to design anything from old to modern that relates to "Reservation artwork." (Lailani Upham photo)
A bustle on display from the Jay Labor's Reservation Art class, designed by Sugar Bear First Strike. Labor said students are allowed to design anything from old to modern that relates to "Reservation artwork." (Lailani Upham photo)

The SKC art department is housed in the Woodcock Building which is known as a unique and beautifully architectured facility in Montana that is capable of featuring artwork with outstanding natural and studio lighting.

Studio Art Courses include: Dance Dress Construction, Bead Working, Star Quilting, Tipi Construction, Basket Weaving, Metal Arts Welding, Sand Blasting, Ceramics, Water Color, Printmaking, Drawing and Silver Smithing.

For information on the SKC Fine Arts program call Corwin Clairmont at (406) 675-4800. For donations to the SKC Foundation and scholarship program, please contact Lois Slater, Director of SKC Foundation at (406) 275-4820.

On the web: Salish Kootenai College

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