Exhibit draws on American India heritage
When Alyssa Hinton was a child, her teacher told her mother that she had an artist on her hands.
And now, a decade of Hinton’s creative isolation is on display at the FedEx Global Education Center.
The exhibit, entitled “The Awakening: Parallel Worlds,” stems from Hinton’s desire to dig down and excavate her American Indian heritage.
The pieces in the exhibit are made of a variety of mediums and each represent up to 100 hours of work.
Hinton said her father is white, but mostly English, and her mother is black and American Indian, but mostly the latter. She said her desire to create the pieces featured in the exhibit came from her tri-racial heritage and her yearning to catch up with her own cultural identity.
“The Indian part was always the part that was sort of hidden or submerged and kept out of sight — everybody kind of tucked it under the rug,” she said. “It was much easier to find out about my European heritage and my African heritage than it was to find out about my Indian heritage.”
Hinton said she eventually ended up moving to North Carolina so she could be on location and tap into the history of her people.
She said using mixed media to create her artwork makes sense because of her mixed heritage.
“Being tri-racial, everything is tripled and compounded for me, so doing mixed media makes it easier because I don’t have to narrow things down and put them into very defined categories,” she said. “I can mix and match at will, and that kind of freedom reflects me fitting into a lot of different categories.”
She said she hopes visitors to her exhibit are made aware of things that are normally hidden about Southeastern culture and history.
“Before colonization, what is now North Carolina was an international place,” she said.
“There were three different nations speaking three different languages all coalescing right here in this area.”
Amy Hertel, the director of the American Indian Center, said Hinton’s art is important because it is grounded in her identity, as well as in history.
She said she is excited that the exhibit is going to be featured for the whole semester because that will give the faculty enough time to incorporate it into their classrooms and the study of their students.
Laura Griest, manager of global events and exhibitions at UNC Global, said she hopes people will take the time to dive into the work.
She said the exhibit is an opportunity to provoke thought and to educate the public while they see some beautiful works by a local American Indian artist.
Even though Hinton said she hopes to educate people about American Indian history through her exhibit, she said she has learned information about herself through creating the art.
“Sometimes I feel like just by spending so many hours doing the art and tapping into this certain stream, I end up getting information that just sort of comes through me,” she said. “I’m excavating some long-lost history that’s from here.”
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