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Batavian helps celebrate Native American artists at Aurora University museum

Schingoethe Center acquires new home at Aurora University

Art lovers may not know that a museum devoted to Native American culture and artistry, directed by Meg Bero of Batavia, has been reimagined at Aurora University. She co-curated “WOVEN: The Art of Contemporary Native Weaving,” which will open with a reception from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Oct. 4 at the Schingoethe Center on campus.

The exhibit features 19 nationally and internationally known weavers showcasing baskets, rugs, photographs and sculpture. Schingoethe Center was relocated last fall to the newest building on campus, the Welcome Center.

"We have wonderful gallery space both in the lobby and within the new museum," said Bero, who is also an instructor of museum studies at the university. "We have a wonderful lecture and recital hall that holds 80 [that's] very pleasant for artist lectures."

The reception will be followed by a 7 p.m. lecture by Kelly Church. In announcing the show, Bero noted Church comes from the largest black ash basket-making family in Michigan, an unbroken line of weavers. 

She shares a quote from Church: “We have a photo of my family making baskets from 1919, but my grandmother once said that we made baskets before they made cameras.” 

Bero said Church's father is historian for the tribe, and she is an activist in the preservation of her people's history. "Sustaining Tradition" is the title of the lecture by the Ottawa and Chippewa Native American. Part of her talk will discuss the future of her family's craft in light of the forest devastation wrought by the emerald ash borer. Church will attend the reception with her daughter and fellow artist Cherish Parrish.

In describing the entire exhibition, Bero said there's a real freshness and vibrancy to the work.

"Pieces have a serious message and others are very playful and reflect pop culture," Bero said, noting some people think of Native American art as something from the past, and thereby constrained.

"I think when people come to our shows, they will be surprised," Bero said. "[The exhibit] will be very thought-provoking as well as beautiful. Some of these pieces are so stunning, beautifully made and [with] a variety of materials: photography that's woven, and film that's woven."

Subjects will range from Angry Birds to a basket about the Native American boarding school experience.

The center reopened after a two-year construction period for the new building. Bero said the redesigned space allows the museum to bring native and nonnative artists together in a variety of formats.

"Sometimes, the work sort of speaks to each other and it's a joint exhibit," Bero said. "At other times, it will [focus on] just Native American like this."

Included in “WOVEN" will be Schingoethe Center historic woven containers and rugs.

Among the others exhibiting is Cherokee artist Shan Goshorn, whose works are in national museums, including the National Museum of the American Indian. She uses archival photographs and documents to create containers in the Cherokee tradition.

Navajo artist Marlowe Katoney approaches weaving from a painter’s perspective. Trained as a painter, he grew up watching his grandmother weave. He brings a painterly aesthetic to the traditional Diné pictorial rug motif, creating a contemporary narrative.

"WOVEN" is a joint project of the Schingoethe Center and I.M.N.D.N. Native Art for the 21st Century. (Note to readers: Say the acronym out loud.)

The reception will offer food and music, and reservations are requested. Admission is free to the center, which is open late on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays. At other times, tours can be arranged.

The show, co-curated by Todd Clark, will run until Dec. 16, and other talks are planned for Nov. 2 – "Imprints: The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians and the City of Chicago," a 7 p.m. lecture by John Low, author and educator at Ohio State University; and Dec. 1 – "The Hanna Duston Story: The Indian Captivity Narrative as Propaganda," a 7 p.m. lecture by Laura Russman, Schingoethe Center curator of collections. Visit

If you go

What: “WOVEN: The Art of Contemporary Native Weaving”

When: Reception from 5 to 6:30 p.m. and lecture at 7 p.m. Oct. 4; exhibit runs to Dec. 16

Where: Aurora University's Schingoethe Center, 1315 Prairie St., Aurora

Cost & info: Free; reservations requested at 630-844-4824 and or visit

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