Thursday, October 11, 2007


On Saturday, October 20th, 2007, I will be in Monticello, Illinois, at the train depot, working as a volunteer for "Artrain USA." It is an art exhibit in train cars. This year, the art is by top American Indian artists whose art is contemporary in style. The exhibit itself is called "Native Views: Influences of Modern Culture."

Among the artists whose work is in the train cars is Judith Lowry, who did the illustrations for Chiori Santiago's picture book, Home to Medicine Mountain. The story is about Lowry's father and uncle, and their experience at boarding school in the 1930s.

In those schools, Native children were taken far from their homes by the US government. They could not return home unless their families had money to pay for their travel. That meant that a lot of kids were stuck at those schools for the entire school year, and many spent many years at them before they could go home. Many kids ran away. Many died as they tried to get home.

Home to Medicine Mountain is about two boys and their efforts to go home. The book concludes with a photograph of the two boys as men.

It is, for me, a unique moment. The boys went home on a train, as you can see in the cover illustration. On Saturday, I will view Judith Lowry's art, in a train car exhibit.

If you're in Central Illinois (or if you're up for a weekend drive to central Illinois), this exhibit is a rare opportunity to see exquisite Native art. To see this sort of collection, you'd have to travel to Washington, or Phoenix, or Oklahoma... And it'll be right here in central Illinois.

The Artrain website includes an educational packet that I encourage you to download and use, whether or not you go to the exhibit.

From here, it will go to Clarksdale, Mississippi; Meridian, Mississippi; Washington DC; Springfield, Missouri; Oklahoma City, and the last stop is in Norman, Oklahoma at the end of November.

The Artrain will be in Monticello for two days (Saturday October 20 and Sunday October 21st). If you do visit, please find me and introduce yourself!


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