First American Art Magazine No. 21, Winter 2018/19 - Page 40

DISNEY INTRODUCES NEW AUDIENCES TO NATIVE ART Walt Disney World launches Creating Tradition: Innovation and Change in American Indian Art in the American Adventure pavilion at Epcot. By Michole Eldred V I S I T O R S T O WA LT DISNEY WORLD can now take an eye-opening journey through the evolving status of American Indian visual arts and cultures. They can experience the creativity of some of the United States’ 573 federally recognized tribes. Walt Disney World has recently unveiled a new exhibi- tion, Creating Tradition: Innovation and Change in American Indian Art, at Epcot in Orlando, Florida. The exhibition opened on July 27, 2018, and is expected to remain on view with interchanging art and interactive exhibitions for the next five years. The combined efforts of Native artists and curators alongside Disney teams have created a worthwhile presentation that should not be missed. Creating Tradition is located at the American Heritage Gallery inside the American Adventure pavilion. The loca- tion of the exhibition was purposefully chosen. Kevin Gover (Pawnee), director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, explains, “The American experience begins with the American Indians who have always been here. This gallery helps to convey not only that there were a great many Indians and they were very different from one another, but also that they are still here. Our creative traditions are taking their top Quenten Cypress, the community engagement coordinator of the Ah-Tah- Thi-Ki Seminole Museum, and Willow Cypress (both Seminole) exploring Creating Tradition: Innovation and Change in American Indian Art. All images courtesy of the author. o pp o s i t e Bobby Henry (Seminole) leading a dance at the opening reception of Creating Tradition. place—literally, here at Epcot—alongside the rest of the world.” 1 The exhibition is part of Epcot’s World Showcase, a walking destination of themed pavilions that represent the history, cuisine, and cultures found within eleven countries. Creating Tradition is open to any visiting guest of Epcot. In 2017 alone, 12.2 million people visited Epcot. 2 Currently, 40 different American Indian tribes are represented through the display of 89 pieces of art. The artists and tribes in Creating Tradition are grouped into seven regions: Eastern Woodlands; Southeast; Plains, Great Basin and Plateau; Southwest; California and Hawaii; and the Northwest Coast and Alaska. The regions are presented on a dazzling, carved wooden map. Each region lights up periodically with what appears to be a sprinkling of Tinker Bell’s magic fairy dust. This is, after all, Disney’s show, hence full of entertaining visuals and storylines designed to engage visitors of all ages. Some of the selected pieces are historical, with other objects created as recently as this year. According to Walt Disney World public relations, the goal of the exhibition is to show “the work of contemporary Native artists alongside artifacts from centuries past, demonstrating how ancestral craftman- ship influences modern generations.” 3 Acoma fashion designer Loren Aragon 1. “Epcot Just Got a New Smithsonian Museum Exhibition,” Smithsonian Magazine, August 22, 2018, web. 2. “Annual Disney Park Attendance Statistics and Charts | Disney Resources,”, last updated August 17, 2018, web. 3. “Walt Disney World Resort Celebrates American Indian Culture in New Gallery Exhibition,” Walt Disney World News, July 27, 2018, web. 38 | WWW.FIRSTAMERICANARTMAGAZINE.COM