Salish Kootenai College
offers degree and certificate in Fine Arts
By Lailani Upham
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.
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.
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.
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.
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