Supporting Native Arts and Artists
Since 1995, Evergreen has convened artists locally (Salish Artist Gathering), regionally (the first gatherings of the Northwest Native American Basketweavers Association and Northwest Native Woodcarvers), nationally (the Business of Art Symposium) and internationally (Gathering of Indigenous Visual Artists of the Pacific Rim 2001 and 2017).
Through the House of Welcome, we connect local, national and international established artists with emerging and intermediate artists through our long-term and short-term master artists workshops where artists collaboratively produce visual and performance-based arts.
Since 2005, we have re-granted nearly a million dollars to American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian artists.
We provide economic development opportunities for artists through Native art markets and business management and marketing training.
We help educate the public about Indigenous arts and cultures through exhibitions, public forums, films and publications.
The Indigenous Arts Campus includes art studios informed by Indigenous architectural design concepts and includes the House of Welcome Longhouse (1995, expaned in 2009), the Pay3q'ali ( A place to carve in Twana) Carving Studio complex (2012 and 2019) and Paimārire, (Peace and Serenity in Māori) the fiber arts studio (2018).
Programming in these studios will support the preservation of Tribal cultures while providing opportunities for contemporary artistic expression. We continue to develop curriculum and strategies for pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Indigenous Arts to be offered at Evergreen.
The House of Welcome Cultural Center recognizes the importance of supporting the arts at the source—by supporting artists themselves.
Native Creative Development Program™
We are excited to support projects for individual artists and mentorship partnerships for eligible Tribally enrolled artists who are working to further shape their artistic development. We recognize multiple levels of art forms—powerful and growing forms of customary art practices from unique cultures, lands, and perspectives. Whether reclaiming ancient practices or creating contemporary Native art, your distinctive artistic vision, cultural identity, and connection to respective Tribal communities are honored in this program. Art mediums may be in any visual artistic form. Performance-based forms includes music and film. Funding supports traditional, contemporary, and experimental art forms.
Established in 2005 at the request of the House of Welcome Advisory Board it believes that the practice of cultural artmaking is vital to the overall health of tribal societies. This initiative provides creative development and sustainability to individual practicing Native artists working to strengthen Native art forms, practice, and knowledge of traditional and contemporary art.
Initially, a partnership between the Tulalip Tribe and Artist Trust to expand funds to individual Native artists who reside in Oregon and Washington. Then, in 2012 the program was expanded to emerging and mid-career artists.
Types of Grants (one-time grants)
- Individual artist grant for creative development supports practice to increase artistic skills and knowledge pursuing new approaches of techniques in practice. Grant up to $6,000
- Apprentice |Mentorship partnerships are up to $10,000. This grant supports one-to-one or group artist apprentices and mentorship collaborations with an established artist in their artistic creative medium. Must be able to meet regularly in-person for face-to-face artistic development. Include a letter of support from the teaching artist about the medium. The teaching artist and the apprentices must be Tribally enrolled.
Application Opens: Wednesday, September 20, 2023
Application Closes: Friday, November 1, 2023
Award Notification: Friday, December 15, 2023
Project Duration: 9 months to 12 months. January 2024 - September 20, 2024
- Funding supports traditional, contemporary, and experimental art forms. The individual artist grant is intended solely for Tribally enrolled artists living in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana.
- Tribally enrolled means you are an enrolled member citizen of a federally recognized or state recognized American Indian Tribe or Alaska Native Tribe. Documentation of Tribal affiliation is required.
- Demonstrated commitment to a creative practice.
- We do not retroactively fund art projects. Projects that start on or after the application timeline.
- Prior year grant award partners are to have completed their final reports before reapplying.
Project Criteria for Individual Artist and Apprentice | Mentorship Partnerships
Provide a clear project description, duration and timelines with goals, objectives, and outcomes indicated. Describe why this project is important to undertake now. Share why your creative expression is connected to your Tribal cultural identity, values, and community. Share how you plan to move forward in practice and transfer of knowledge and skill building. Applicants will be asked to show how the project:
- Advances your artist's development, art form, and creative practice.
- Share how your unique aesthetic and body of work celebrates your history, connection and belonging to your artistic and cultural community.
Apprentice | Mentorships partnership applicants:
Additionally include information about the mentor, such as an artist statement and samples of art form. Your arts partnerships may include teaching and learning opportunities via workshops, classes, and mentorship with practicing artists. If you are preparing for an event or gathering, you may include a community engagement plan.
How to Apply
There are two ways to apply:
- Complete the Online Native Creative Application (Google Forms) Note: You will have an opportunity to upload all materials
- Download and Complete the Paper Application. Note: Detailed Instructions are provided in the paper application on how to submit attachments.
Required Application Attachments
You will be asked to upload the following documents as a part of the application:
- Portfolio of creative work or samples of art. Up to six work samples will be accepted. Label and title each provided.
- Mentorship partnerships will upload additional mentor and mentee artist statements or biographies.
- Documentation of Tribal affiliation. | if you have any questions, call (360) 692-9487.
- Project Budget. Anticipated expenses and in-kind contributions and resources such as supplies already invested, cedar tree, deer hides, etc.
- Letter of support. ONLY required if your project involves intersectional partnerships and participation with community members. E.g., museums, galleries, or public events.
Past Year Final Reports
If you have any questions, please email Mary.firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 360 692 9487.
Supporting Indigenous Arts Mastery Program (SIAM)* Grants
SIAM Grants for Colleges and Universities:
The Supporting Indigenous Arts Mastery Program (SIAM) Grant, is designed to help community colleges and four-year colleges and universities (both public and private) achieve some of its goals to support cultural arts of Tribal communities within the institution's own service region. Modeled after the work of Evergreen's House of Welcome Cultural Center, SIAM is designed to support the outward facing public service work colleges and universities may already be doing, or wish to do, with Tribal communities to support cultural visual arts.
Every partnership is unique. While institutions do not need to have a comprehensive public service plan already in place, it should have a team of dedicated staff of professionals and leaders and Tribal partners committed to the successful support of proposed projects focusing on cultural arts as defined by a Tribe or Tribes. The institution and the Tribe(s) should have the capacity to deliver the programming described in your letter and provide evaluation and institutional documentation of expenditures.
Cultural arts can be multi-disciplinary or focused on a particular type of art deemed to be important for the Tribe(s) by the Tribe(s) and taught by master artists who can bring other Tribal artists into the circle of artistic mastery as explorers, learners and apprentices. The intention is to create artistic paths to ensure sustainability of the artform(s).
Available grants are up to $30,000 to $50,000 per institution, per year, which is renewable for longer projects. Project budgets should focus on contracts with master artists, supplies and materials, as well as support for learners/apprentices. It may include rental, support for meals during workshops, mileage, lodging as well as some salary support and goods and services for the institution team managing the project. Projects can be matched with other funding sources from institutional, state, and national resources.
Project proposals can be for up to two years with a maximum funding of $50,000 each year. Rolling deadline until funds are expended. Projects may begin at any point in the year.
Successful institutions will demonstrate a philosophy of service, respect and consultation with Tribes that elevates the autonomy, agency, and expertise of Tribes in their work to support and advance artistic mastery in their communities.
*SIAM is a Salish term for a learned elder.
Northwest Heritage Program
The Northwest Heritage Program focuses on working in partnership with Federally Recognized tribal communities and cultural communities to develop culturally-based art workshops.
The program partners with cultural and heritage departments, organizations and artists of federally recognized Tribes who would like to have resources to support the teaching and learning of cultural arts, with an emphasis on customary arts, and a focus on intergenerational sharing of artistic knowledge.
We have supported the teaching and learning of cultural arts in the Pacific Northwest focused on Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana Tribes.
The Northwest Heritage art workshops can be in any art form that is important to the community. Previous art workshops have included: sturgeon nose and shovel nose canoe building, corn husk basket weaving, moccasin making, plateau dressmaking, Klickitat basket making, clam digging and Blackfeet' traditional willow backrest.
Examples of Tribal partnerships include Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis, Confederated Tribes of the Colville, Yakama Nation, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Burns Paiute Tribe and Blackfeet Nation.
Examples of institutions we have partnered with include Yakama Nation Museum, Yakima Valley Museum, Northwest Museum of Art and Culture, Washington State History Museum, Museum at Warm Springs, Oregon College of Art and Crafts, Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Museum and the Museum of the Plains Indian.
We are honored to continue the work of strengthening cultural artistic traditions through the transfer of intergenerational knowledge in cultural arts to future generations.
Available grants are up to $6,000 per workshop, per year.
Projects should focus on contracts with master artists, supplies and materials. It may include space rental and support for meals during the workshop.
Projects may be held over a period of several weeks and may include multiple sessions over several seasons to accommodate appropriate gathering and preparation of materials.
Projects can be matched with other funding sources from institutional, state, and national resources.
- Letter of interest specifically addressing:
- Project description
- Measurable objectives and the activities proposed to meet those objectives
- If Tribes have identified master artists for the project, include:
- Artist(s) name
- Images of work samples
- Tribal affiliation
- Importance to the art form
- Proposed Budget with general line items of expected expenditures.
Awarded projects will be expected to submit a W-9 outlining who receives the funding.
Participant evaluations for the activities during the workshop will need to be submitted. Evaluations from the master artist(s) documenting having met the goals and objectives of the workshop are also required. Photos and documentation of activities are encouraged.
Successful workshops will demonstrate deeper learning of cultural arts, offering an immersive experience to learn the work within cultural contexts offered by the master artist.
Materials can be e-mailed to:
- Linley Logan, Northwest Heritage Program Specialist, email@example.com
- Laura VerMeulen, Longhouse Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions can be directed via e-mail or phone (360) 867-6413.
Resources for Native Artists
Artist Statement Basics
Things to Consider when Crafting Your Statement
Why Write an Artist Statement?
Artist statements are fundamental components of your work within the world of art. Why? Artist Statements give the viewer some background on the work, you as the artist, and why you created the piece. A quality piece of artwork will always pique the interest of viewers on its own. However, providing an artist’s statement for your work grounds the piece in the context you provide.
If you are submitting your work to a museum or gallery show, for a grant or other opportunity, a written artist’s statement will likely be required. A good piece of artwork raises many questions – the viewers will inevitably want to know more about the work and you as the artist. A quality artist statement will help do just that.
What are the Elements of a Strong Artist’s Statement?
An artist statement can be about a single work of art, a body of work, or about you as an artist and why or how you make your artistic decisions. An artist statement of high quality will introduce the viewer – in as few words as possible – to the thought processes, themes or cultural context the work was created in. For example, suppose the artist statement describes a basket you have woven. In that case, you may want to discuss the method you chose, the patterns or style of weaving, the material used and why these elements are important to the finished work. If your piece tells a story, or if there is a story behind the creation of your piece, you can tell it concisely in your artist statement. If the work involved research, you can talk about your methods and your findings. If your biographical information is meaningful to the work, include it. An artist statement allows you to clarify artistic choices, such as colors, shapes, textures, methods you have used, etc., and discuss why they are essential.
Questions to Consider
You may want to consider some of the questions below when writing your artist statement. Some questions may, or may not, apply to the work.
- What inspired you to create the work?
- Why or how did you choose the title of the work?
- What medium(s) did you use and why?
- How did you get started in your medium?
- Who influences your work?
- How did you determine the size or scale of the work?
Selling at Festivals
Controlling the Message You Send People about Your Art
It can be both rewarding and challenging to do direct sales with the public. On the one hand you get immediate feedback about your work. On the other hand, you may not cover your investment with sales. Shoppers walk past your booth and may not stop at all, or look briefly and keep going. What are the reasons customers do this? And how can you encourage them to stop at your booth?
Potential customers may like your artwork, but they may not see it in a way that allows them to appreciate it. So you have to think about how you display your art to catch the eye of people who might be looking at identical tent after tent. As you can see in the photos below, with customers walking about, it may take a determined shopper several pass-through visits before they stop at your booth.
Large markets, including pow wows, both outdoors and indoors, provide a good draw for potential customers but it also can overwhelm shoppers with too much choice. How do you make your space one of the places people visit?
Visit with Other Artist Vendors
No matter how experienced a person is, walking around the festival to visit other booths, and visiting other markets always provides an opportunity to think about your own strategies in new ways. Make note of what appeals to you, and what draws your attention. What made you stay at some booths? What made you walk past others? Pay attention to how an artist arranges their space. Some stand behind a table with items placed between themselves and the customers. Others move tables around, and add their own tables and invite you into their shop. Even within those two choices, people offer a variety of ways to encourage customers to take a closer look at their art.
Works can be easily viewed all at once, or draw you in to discover pieces that couldn’t be seen clearly from the walkway. The booth can be sparsely stocked, fully stocked with varying points to rest your eyes, or so full of works that you feel overwhelmed by the display. How the work is displayed is one element of what makes an artist successful at festivals. As you can see, the three artists above have found a variety of ways to show their works.
What is the Formula?
Everyone displays their work differently. The idea is to let buyers discover pieces, rather than seeing everything you have in one glance. Successful artists provide varying levels for 3-D items and create interest by creating a space that feels like a tiny store, rather than simply laying works flat on a table or putting everything in a flip file. Obviously, people will always do some of that, but it’s good to vary the height and the way people will find the works you have to offer.
Some artists invest a small fortune in professional portable walls, gallery lights, racks, and display cases. They invest in fabric walls that can be set up and broken down at festivals with lights, shelving systems, bins and even pedestals. Such a system can send the message that your artwork is serious and merits the fair prices you are asking, not because people notice the walls, lights and pedestals, but because these things make your work stand out and look great. A website that sells these displays, especially for artists who sell at festivals is ProPanels: http://www.propanels.com/.
The examples below are from the ProPanels website:
What if you don’t have a lot of money for booth displays? FASO.com has articles by different artists on topics related to marketing. There are some great examples of DIY ideas that display work in unique and inexpensive ways at an art fair without investing thousands of dollars. The link: http://faso.com/fineartviews/20870/art-display-systems-for-art-festivals.
This is an example from the article of an artist using barn boards with pegs that the work rests upon. The barn boards are secured to the tent frame at the top.
Bobbie Bush (Chehalis) is a weaver who specializes in miniatures and other small pieces. She puts some of the works at different levels, and has a combination of jewelry displays, bins and mats that she uses to provide a backdrop to her work. Even though the items are small, she draws attention to them by using small pedestals set atop a cattail mat that contrasts with her table covering. The mat is “framed” by the placement of other less expensive, but colorful pieces. Notice how your eye is drawn to the necklaces to the left.
Connecting with the Customer
While the first thing any patron will notice is the work itself, forming some connection to the artist might be what inspires them to purchase it. The very best way to do that is through personal connection, or talking with customers about your work and answering their questions about the pieces, your body of work, or even who you are. Artists can’t speak with everyone all at once and so having some printed information about you and your work is helpful as well. Buyers want to feel great about having purchased your work and having it in their home. How you interact with them, the expressions on your face, the public’s perception of your approachability all play a role—even if you do not directly talk with the customer.
Artist Biography and Other Take Away Paper
Providing an artist biography with each piece is an excellent way to provide the written information. The term “biography” might make your artistic eyes glaze over, but think about it as a way to personally be in control over the most important things someone should know about you as the artist. Many artists have a photo of themselves at the start of a short 100-200 word biography. If you are enrolled in your tribal nation, be sure to say that in the way that people from your nation customarily identify themselves. That might include the official name of the tribe, your clan, family, region, etc. Talk about what compels you to do your art and the ideas you like to explore. You can state how long you have been an artist or how long you have been a professional artist, or if you come from a long line of artists. Looking at other artist’s biographies is also enlightening.
It is also a good idea to have postcards, and/or business cards on hand that have your name, a short description of what you sell and a way for people to contact you. If you use social media, or a website, it would be great to include that information and how they can find you, or follow you in case they want to purchase more art.
Printed material that has a cohesive message about you and your artwork communicates to the customer that you are professional and will be easy to do business with. Consider having an image of your artwork on the materials, or some portion of a signature piece you’ve created. Use that graphic on the business cards, postcards, letterhead and to brand your presence on social media and/or your website.
Range of Prices
Consider having different price points for customers. In a busy schedule, it likely is already hard to find the time you need to make the art work you love to make. If you are nervous about covering gas, booth fees, meals and even lodging, selling your appropriately priced work, then you can consider having smaller pieces that will be inviting to people who have $50.00 or less to spend. It isn’t unusual for artists to bring their high end works to a show to draw people in, but the bread and butter for the day might be from something else they make. What that means to you and how you incorporate it to maintain your artistic integrity will be different than it will be for the artist in the next booth over.
One Maori weaver we know makes paper out of her bits and pieces of weaving materials. The paper is often incorporated into her fine art exhibitions. Another artist from the Northwest, makes small fired clay pins in addition to offering his sculptural works. A mother/daughter artist team makes a variety of sewn objects and small beaded objects in addition to their more complex works. Many artists apply images of their original works onto clothing. Not everyone can afford your best works. With some customers, offering smaller objects could be a way to build a future customer who can buy the bigger works.
What Intimidates Customers
It can be useful to think about what motivates customers. Customer behavior could very well be motivated by personal insecurities. Some common concerns shoppers may have include the following:
People who come to art festivals or galleries can include collectors who are deeply familiar with art forms, or artists who practice a particular kind of art and have deep knowledge of how the work is produced. On the other hand, customers can include people who are new to appreciating art and they may have no information on how you produced your work, or how you may have prepped materials. They may be new to looking at art in general. They want to learn more, but don’t want to seem like they don’t know much. They may be new to your type of art. Or they are nervous about paying a lot for work, or even don’t have the money to buy the work they want.
How can you help people who might be intimidated feel more confident? What were the questions you had about your medium when you were just starting out? What is special about the way you produce your pieces? What is unique about your artistic message? How much do you charge for your work? Think of ways you can incorporate some of this information in your printed materials, or your booth information. Consider making it easier for potential patrons to understand the answers to questions they may have, but might be shy about asking you. Maybe even having a friendly sign that invites people to ask you questions about your art.
A story: I was looking at all of the wonderful and rightfully expensive works offered by artists at the Alaskan Federation of Natives conference. The works were largely produced with materials challenging to hunt or collect and included significant amounts of time to process before the final work was created. There was hardly anything I could afford. I happened upon an artist whose button robes and vests I admired. She also offered smaller objects that incorporated some of the elements used in the larger works. The smaller pieces were also pricey, but something I could purchase from this artist. The artist was looking down and didn’t seem to notice me until I picked up the smaller item. “Those are for the tourists.” That’s all the artist had to say. I put them back and didn’t buy a thing.
The message: If I bought the affordable work, I was a tourist, maybe a tourist who didn’t know any better. In truth, I knew the value of the work this artist produced and I admired it but I couldn’t buy anything else she had or any of the work by other artists at the event.
Everyone who comes to a festival has a certain amount of money that they are willing to spend, either at that festival or on artwork for the month or even the year. Maybe they came to this festival specifically to make that rare purchase. If none of your works has any indication of the price, customers may be reluctant to engage you in a conversation about what you charge. They may assume that the price is really high, so they immediately decide the work is out of their reach. They may actually be worried about hurting your feelings if they cannot afford your work and walk away. This might be really difficult to believe because every artist also has the opposite experience when customers challenge the price you have, or try to bargain with you for a lower cost using unpleasant tactics. Posted prices might encourage some and deflect the bargainer too.
Speaking of pricing, you will want to make it easy for someone to purchase work from you. Customers who have a variety of ways that they can pay for work may be more willing to look through your work. There are a variety of ways to take credit cards now that do not require an expensive arrangement with a bank, including www.propay.com, www.paypal.com, and www.squareup.com. Paypal has a card reader for smartphones as does Square up. Propay offers card readers and also devices that you can use with your phone.
Someone who works at The Evergreen State College asked if we had any more of “those posters we gave away” at an event. I mentally ran through the various posters we had and asked him if it might be one of those. He then described a limited edition print we had at one time. I said, “Oh you mean the print we gave away that big event.” He vigorously nodded and said, “Yes, that poster."
Prints can be very confusing for customers. There are different kinds of print-making and many people don’t understand all the terms, or why one process is more expensive than another. Many people will not know the difference between a giclée and a monotype. Many people don’t know that print-making is art and really do believe it is like printing posters and not “serious” like, say, painting. So when someone calls your prints “posters” you’ll want to find a gentle way to help them understand what you do.
With work like weaving, some customers may not be familiar with the labor and art involved in gathering and preparing materials, the preparation and use of natural dyes, or if a type of material used is rare. If you collect your own materials you may want to include photos in your booth that show you out collecting cedar bark, digging up spruce root, or prepping any number of the materials you use. The photos are good conversation starters and may remind customers about what artists do before they even start working on an art piece. If you are a textile weaver who hand spins yarns, and/or hand dyes them you very much want to make that information known.
Artists who help customers understand their artwork, and help people feel good about the purchase, help to build a loyal customer for future purchases. Writing about your artwork helps you refine your creative message and even direction. It also increases your professional presentation and even the value of your work. While it may not always be apparent, customers notice you and your work. For artists, it can feel like a whole separate career to consider things like display, written materials, and pricing, but it really is part of the same process by getting at why you create your unique art.