How is it the last Friday of March? For this last post, let’s explore the works of two women actively creating and contributing to the thriving Catawba artistic community.
Catawba art is constantly changing and evolving, something Catawba artist DeAnn Beck knows well. Beck enjoys painting rather than creating pottery and often uses watercolors to paint images of animals, people, and scenery. An often-unforgiving art form - water is unpredictable - Beck intentionally uses the fluidity of the medium to spotlight images and ideas she finds beautiful and important, like the dandelion painting here.
The subjects Beck chooses challenge expected norms of Indigenous art, which doesn’t come without its critics. Beck loves her heritage but many question why she does not paint exclusively traditional Native imagery. In an interview with the USC Lancaster Native American Studies Center in 2019, she shared “Because I am Native American, people really expect that I should only paint native things, [but] it’s not the only thing that catches my interest and I feel like people shouldn’t expect me to do just that because that’s my background.” In doing so, Beck faces off with the opposition while still respecting her culture - something Catawba artisans have embraced for thousands of years.
Our next artist is also known for using a non-traditional artform. Brooke Bauer’s art focuses on writing and telling stories. She is, to the best of her knowledge, the first Catawba to receive a PhD in History, writing her dissertation on Sally New River (the March 11 Fact Friday post was heavily sourced from her research) and the culture of the Catawba. Growing up, Brooke learned Catawba pottery and storytelling traditions from her mother, JoAnn Bauer, who learned the same from her mother, Evelyn George, a master potter. Dr. Bauer used the storytelling traditions to pursue a career in teaching. Her mother’s pottery has been featured in exhibits across the Carolinas and Bauer has dedicated her life to educating people at the college level about the Catawba and their continuing traditions, a reminder that the Catawba people continue to thrive. In an article alongside other Catawba about their enduring culture, Bauer wants Catawba people to be recognized as active citizens, saying, “We are not a thing of the past ... we are still here.”
Learn more about DeAnn Beck:
Her work is available for purchase at the Catawba Cultural Center at catawbaindiancrafts.com
Learn more about Dr. Brooke Bauer here.
Join the Museum Thursday through Saturday to explore “The Language of Clay,” on loan from the Native American Studies Center at USC Lancaster, which includes a Loving Cup by Dr. Bauer’s grandmother, noted potter Evelyn B. George.
Hope to see you at the Museum this weekend!
The Charlotte Museum of History
About The Charlotte Museum of History
The Charlotte Museum of History exists to save and share the Charlotte region’s history, helping create a better understanding of the past and inspiring dialogue about the future. The museum is the steward of the 1774 Hezekiah Alexander Rock House and homesite, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the oldest home in Mecklenburg County. Visit charlottemuseum.org and follow the museum on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The museum is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
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“We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.” – Frederick Douglass