First American Art Magazine No. 22, Spring 2019 - Page 102

MEMORIAL SHAN GOSHORN July 3, 1957–December 1, 2018 “T HERE ARE SOME women who show up to speechify for the sisterhood but seldom show up for the sisters. There are artists who just show up to make a sale. And some activists only show up for the show or to profile against the sunset. Shan is not any of these. Shan shows up. Full stop. She should be taught as a life lesson on the kind of human being we all might strive to become.” I wrote these words for Resisting the Mission, Shan’s exhibition of mixed-media baskets depicting hostage-students at the first federal Indian boarding school, which was displayed at Trout Gallery, Dickinson College. I was deeply honored that she asked me to write the catalogue essay on the arc of her artwork and activism. As a longtime friend and “Shan fan,” I’ve curated her work into exhibitions for three decades including her first basket, Pieced Treaties: Spider’s Web Treaty Basket, displayed in an exhibition on sovereignty and treaties, Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations at the National Museum of the American Indian (2014–21). Shan and I first met in Tulsa in 1992 during the ramp up to the Columbus Quincentenary, aka the 500th anniver- sary of The Invasion. She and I hit it off, recognizing common concerns with human rights, the environment, and the continuing genocidal tendencies hemisphere-wide. Shan Goshorn was a brilliant, wise, and beloved woman—brave, caring, passionate, and compassionate. A truth seeker, she was a strong-hearted, good-humored activist for the rights of Native peoples, women, artists, the envi- ronment, and more. A mixed-media, concept-based artist of great renown, Shan worked in photography, painting, basket making, silversmithing, and collage and montage artistry. Her many series make fulsome, cohesive statements, and she mastered each subject in a manner above Shan Goshorn in her studio with a basket in process. Photo: Lorae Davis. worthy of acknowledgment as a scholarly dissertation. Shan was a captivating storyteller and a most effective advocate. In making art or otherwise imparting knowledge, she was clear and unflinching about treaty violations, grave robbing, violence against women, torture of children, harm to Mother Earth, mascoting, stereotyping, and damage to Native languages and sacred places. Her statements continue to give heart to those searching for ways to present issues and reach for solutions to our myriad emergency situations. The impact of her work on generations to come is incalculable. 100 | WWW.FIRSTAMERICANARTMAGAZINE.COM Shan’s constructions and montages provide visual commentary on the social injustice of invidious discrimination and the distortions of cultural identity in popular culture. Her Honest Injun collection, launched in 1992, shows the wide range of misrepresentations of Native ceremonies, clothing, appearance, histories, and values resulting from 500 years of commodification. She hand- painted black-and-white photographs of commercial brands that use so-called Native names and imagery, such as the Land O’Lakes butter maiden and the Cleveland baseball team’s former symbol, “Chief Wahoo.”