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Montana artists honor and advocate for Missing and Murdered Indigenous People through art

"We Are Still Here and This is Our Story" will be on display at the Emerson Cultural Center until the end of February
Posted at 12:00 PM, Jan 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-20 14:00:17-05

BOZEMAN — A group of all-female indigenous artists wants to bring awareness to the country's Missing and Murdered Indigenous People.

“We’re surrounded by pain, but we’re also surrounded by some very beautiful things,” said artist Susan Stewart.

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On display at the Emerson Cultural Center, portraits, beadwork, and fashion design.

And with a closer look, you’ll find stories of loss and hope.

“As I look around the gallery today I see these beautiful pieces of work and I think it has kinda made a positive thing out of a horribly negative, painful thing,” said Stewart.

Stewart is a member of the Crow and Blackfoot Tribe. She’s been an artist for years, says her work has a mission.

"As an artist, I’ve always been involved in art for social change. This is a way in which artists came together to express their feelings about the issues of missing and murdered indigenous people," said Stewart.

The work on display at the exhibit, called “We Are Still Here and This is Our Story”, is deeply personal for artists.

“Starwomen Sisters” is a piece that honors Stewart’s sister’s great-granddaughter, who was found murdered.

“So this piece in and of itself is a symbol of how elders have to endure,” said Stewart.

“We have to endure as the matriarchs of the family, we have to be empowered to help our families get through these issues of when we have a tremendous loss in the family.”

Olivia Williamson show’s her contemporary clothing designs at the exhibit, inspired by the missing women and girls who could wear them.

“I try to imagine putting a young girl that’s somewhere out there. If she was going to wear this, how would it look like through my eyes?” said Williamson, with tears in her eyes.

Williamson explains how her involvement in advocacy for Missing and Murdered Indigenous people has evolved through her own experience.

And hopes her art puts the viewer in her position, and to imagine for a moment that feeling of loss.

“So I was like Yeah! Missing and Murdered I’m gonna go support these people,” said Williamson.

“Then it happened to my family. My brother is missing right now. I have to put him in front of me and tell everybody.”

The exhibit will be on display at the Emerson Cultural Center through the end of February.