The Sault Gallery explores Native American culture through art
SAULT STE. MARY – The culture and history of the Native American people can be seen on the walls of Alberta House.
For the month of September, the Alberta House Arts Centre, located in downtown Sault Ste. Marie, will exhibit the work of three artists and their representations of Native American art.
Alberta House was founded in 1987 by the Sault Area Arts Council with the aim of promoting interest in all kinds of art in the Upper Peninsula. The house showcases not only historic art, but also modern local designer art as a way to bring people together culturally.
Beginning this month, the gallery house began exhibiting the works of three different and original artists who each work with a different art form to celebrate Native American culture.
Scott Laursen is a photographer and the only artist in this exhibition who does not come from Native American culture himself. Laursen grew up in Manistee originally and after 15 years living in other states with his wife, he moved back to the Upper Peninsula several years ago.
After returning to UP, Laursen began taking courses in Native American history as well as photography at schools such as Grand Rapids Community College and the New Hampshire Institute of Art. As part of a thesis project for her master’s degree in photography, Laursen decided to document some of the history and traditions of the Native American community in Bay Mills.
Over the course of two years, Laursen created 55 photos showing various historic moments and traditions and other images significant not only to the community of Bay Mills, but also to Native American communities across the country. Before bringing his works to the Soo, Laursen had his work exhibited in the Waishkey Building in Bay Mills as part of an exhibition.
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Deanna LaLonde, member of the Sault Ste. The Mackinac Group of Marie Tribe uses many important Native American cultural figures in their paintings. She currently works as an art teacher for Kindergarten to Year 12 students in Brimley.
LaLonde draws much of her inspiration from her experiences with nature and her own heritage. She has ancestors that come from Mackinac Island, Cheboygan, Canada and more.
LaLonde often paints the constellations his ancestors followed in the sky as well as animals commonly found in Native American stories, such as bears and turtles.
Another artist exhibited in the gallery is Ed Gray. Gray passed away several months ago and his pottery collection was donated to the Sault Area Arts Council. Gray was chief executive of the Calumet Arts Center from 2008 until his retirement at age 80 in 2021.
During his lifetime Gray was a bead maker and often created art with copper. It is best known for its handcrafted pottery. Gray has dozens of pieces on display in the gallery, all handmade and most of them created with clay he made himself.
Gray walked along the shores of Lake Superior and Lake Michigan and picked up rocks. He would then take these stones home, separate them by color and grind them into powder. Much of his work displays the same styles used by his ancestors and uses the same materials they would have used.
The Alberta House Gallery is free to visit. All of these works of art are on display at Alberta House and are on sale until the gallery closes at the end of September.
Contact Brendan Wiesner: [email protected]