GBNA Q & A
Questions by April Lemly and Mark Thompson, IDRS
Answers by Melissa Melero-Moose, Founder of the Great Basin Native Artists
What is the Great Basin Native Artists?
We are an organization that promotes, educates and ensures that our community is doing the best they can do to make Great Basin Native Artists visible in our community and beyond for the benefit of Native people and all community members.
The physical location of the Great Basin covers all areas of Nevada, the eastern sierras of California, southern Oregon, southern Wyoming and Idaho, and most of Utah. Though we have only been organizing mostly in Nevada and California at this point.
The Great Basin Native Artists sense of place is very important. We are a part of the land and culture, and like with any place, the art reflects all aspects of the place around them. The colors, the land, the people.
What do you have to do to join the Great Basin Native Artists?
You do not have to join GBNA. If you are a Native artists, just let us know and join our mailing list and we will send you notices of upcoming exhibits, events and workshops.
You will also have the opportunity to be added to the Nevada Museum of Art library and archive for GBNA.
Are the artists required to have “Indian” looking or themed work?
No, they are Indigenous and they are artists. They are encouraged to be who they are.
Do you have a presence on social media?
We have a GBNA Facebook group where we share info with the group and the public events. We are planning on getting on more platforms in the future as well as our upcoming presence on the Nevada Museum of Art online database.
How do most people find you?
Our online presence through our website is very important, and the reason why this organization has taken better shape in this technology era.
We have also done many information booths at local art events and conferences, community events and art fairs. We do these info booths in order to reach out to the public and also to look for new artists to join our mailing list. By maintaining the GBNA mailing list, we are able to do Call for Artists or reach out to the public when we have events and opportunities.
Are you listed with any chambers of commerce or other Native art organizations?
We are not a non-profit (yet).
Native organizations we have exhibited with so far: SWAIA Indian Market in Santa Fe, NM, Heard Museum in Phoenix, AZ, Maidu Museum and Historic Site, Roseville, CA, Stewart Indian Boarding School in Carson City, NV and Autry Museum, Los Angeles, CA.
What would you say is the greatest joy about starting this organization?
Since we have started to exhibit our work regularly, we have been stronger as a group than individuals and have all been exhibiting more than usual. We are out in the public more than when we were working on our own. This has also led to more public awareness of Native people and Native artists in the Great Basin and community awareness.
How many artists are involved with the GBNA?
We have about 150+ artists on the mailing list but an average of about 25 regularly participate with exhibits and events.
With the help of the Nevada Museum of Art, the Great Basin Native Artist Archive Project has identified and documented many more artists and will be putting the information online in the coming year as a part of the Museums’ permanent archive.
What is the larger vision for the organization?
Our vision for the organization is to be a real presence in our community. In order to do that, we need to educate our community, exhibit our work regularly and be supportive of the artists who are just learning how to share their art with their community.
The ultimate goal would be to build our own cultural center, so the community can have continuous arts and cultural events and education for the Native and non-Native community.
Our current Mission statement is:
This organization wants our Great Basin Native Artists to be available to the public in one resource center and available to each other for professional support by providing a:
- Great Basin Native Artists website and online directory
- Exhibiting opportunities as a group for local, national, and international
Native art exhibitions
- Cultural arts education to the Native and non-Native community
- Art business workshops for professional and emerging artists
- Forum for Native artists and interested community members to connect
- Online presence for rural Native artists