A Word from the Board of the Osage Nation Foundation: Voices From the Drum Exhibit

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Voices From the Drum Exhibit


Pawhuska, Ok. – On Wednesday, June 26, 2019, the Osage Nation Foundation (ONF) hosted the Voices from the Drum Exhibit on the Osage Nation Museum grounds from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The idea for this exhibit originated with an inspiring conversation between members of the ONF and Wilson Pipestem.  Pipestem was motivated by his brother Rock Pipestem’s participation in Osage cultural drum making.  Wilson presented the concept of using the hand drum as an artistic canvas.  “We talked and decided that it needed to be the actual instrument that we dance around and that speaks to us during these times, especially in June,” said Julie O’Keefe. 

Bill Webb, Executive Director of the Osage Nation Foundation, marked the significance of this exhibit, “The members of our Board of Trustees of the Foundation feel this exhibit is important because it allows for the documentation of the role the drum in Osage culture while presenting an opportunity to support and promote Osage artists.” 

Board members Julie O’Keefe and Chad Renfro met with other ONF board members and formulated a plan.  Renfro commented, “We wanted this to be large enough, successful enough, and speak about us (ONF) enough that we could move this and keep it moving as a traveling exhibit all around the United States, and perhaps even take a trip to Europe at some point.”

The funding, timing, and process presented challenges that were overcome by the planning team’s dedication to the original vision.  O’Keefe, Renfro, and Pipestem sat under an Oak tree at Olivia St. John’s residence, creating a vision together that became an exhibit and has now manifested its spirit.  This story of origin is a prime example of how Osages can take a spark of inspiration and ignite an artistic, collaborative, cultural impact.  O’Keefe added, “This brought out artists that we currently know, but there were some emerging artists that we didn’t know existed.  It was amazing to see talent in our tribe that we didn’t even know we had.  I felt like we uncovered treasures along the way.” 

The artists included are Jessica Rosemary Harjo, Jon RedCorn, Jen Tiger, Sarah Elsberry, Dante Biss-Grayson, Wendy Ponca, Alex Ponca Stock, Kilian Jacobs, Norman Akers, Ted Moore, Joe Don Brave, Jonathan Lunsford, June Carpenter, Harleigh Moore, Addie Roanhorse, Vanessa Rose Moore, Yatika Fields, Anita Fields, and Rock Pipestem. 

Chad Renfro brought the first stop of the exhibit to a close with a symbolic statement, “Being in the presence of all these drums and all these artists were super powerful.  There was people that were overtaken with emotions when they walked in.  I received messages from people who are employees of Osage Nation and decided to visit the exhibit on their way to work or on break, and at least one left in tears.  There were so many Osage aspects to this exhibit, the video by Ryan Redcorn, the Osage artists, ONF’s Children of the Middle Waters blankets that are the foundation of every one of these drums, the caterers that are Osage…it was wrapped in so much WahZhaZhe it was incredible.”

Special thanks to Osage Nation maintenance worker (Osage) Brandon Wallace and Summer Youth Worker (Osage) Cash Perrier spent several hours delivering drums, signs, tables and pallets for the exhibit. 

Link to video

For more information, please visit: https://www.osagefoundation.org

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Osage-Nation-Foundation-318650941488627/?ref=br_rs