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Mohawk art exhibit opens at the Tahawus Lodge

Mohawk artist Towanna Miller discusses one of her paintings.

Mohawk artist Towanna Miller discusses one of her paintings. Photo by Shaun Kittle.

Horn is taking an active role in getting Mohawks noticed in the region.

Soon, she will be teaching a beading and oral history workshop to fourth-grade students in Au Sable Forks Elementary School.

But the exhibit, she said, was a good place to start.

Horn’s idea of using art as a means of teaching others about the Mohawks is a natural fit because the culture is imbedded in the work.

Natasha Smoke Santiago stood beside a display case containing some of her work—a painted cast of a woman’s pregnant belly, a traditional pipe and two clay pots.

“The Mohawk word for a pot describes the woman’s body,” Santiago said. “Her neck, shoulders and belly; you can see the resemblance.”

The pots were placed directly onto hot coals for cooking, and the insides were coated with bear lard to prevent water from leaking and to make the surface non-stick.

The shape also helped trap heat near the bottom of the pot, making it easier to maneuver after being placed on the coals.

There are details on the pots that reveal aspects of Mohawk culture, too.

Santiago points to an etched zigzag pattern near the rim of one of the pots.

“If you look at it one way it represents mountains, if you look at it the other way, rows of corn,” Santiago said.

Santiago’s work, which also includes paintings, has been featured in galleries in Santa Fe, Quebec and most recently, the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City.

The Mohawk of the Adirondacks exhibit is open 1-4 p.m. Thursday-Sunday, through Oct. 12.

For more information, visit TahawusLodgeCenter.org or call 647-2106.

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