Native Dance Inspires Artwork

By Miesha Payne-Reid

The Downtown Center hosted the opening receptions for Native
American artist George Flett, along with the Textile and Pomona
Youth Art exhibits Saturday. The event provided local residents as
well as the campus community a glimpse of various cultures and

From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. individuals participated in a celebration
of cultural heritage. The event offered live music, dance
performances and refreshments to the more than 200 guests. Although
the reception was open to the public, the event was tailored
towards students and adults.

The Center showcased Flett’s exhibit, titled “Dance of Dawn,” in
correspondence with Native American Heritage Month in January. His
artwork will be displayed from Jan. 13 through Feb. 17.

Although he is known for having a shy demeanor, Flett answered
questions in an effort to increase Native American awareness. As a
Spokane Indian, Fleet uses his gift to preserve the historical
traditions and culture of his tribe.

“To me it’s always important to show the Native American side,”
said Flett. “I try to pass on the culture to non-native

His exhibit was made possible through Charlene Teters, the Cal
Poly Hugh O. LaBounty Chair of Interdisciplinary Applied

“He is someone who uses his art to make connections between
traditional Native American culture and contemporary issues,” said
Teters. “Most students who go through the school system know very
little about Native American issues.”

Flett’s work was inspired by the traditional style of dance
called the Prairie Chicken Dance. A demonstration was performed for
audience members in the studio theatre of the Center.

The performance mimicked the actions of male prairie chickens
when attempting to impress hens. Quick jerking and arm flapping
movements showcased the energetic style of dance.

Each performer was dressed in authentic Native American attire,
which consisted of feathers, beads and mirrors. The unique use of
colors highlighted the dancers’ actions during the performance.

A group of Native American men provided the musical portion of
the demonstration. While sitting in a circular formation, the men
simultaneously hit a drum and created a beat for the dancers.

“I enjoyed the dance because it showed physically what the
paintings depicted,” said Glen Sandoval, a third-year biology
student at Mount San Antonio College.

Prior to the event, Sandoval knew little about the historical
culture of Native Americans. In an attempt to increase his cultural
diversity, Sandoval attended the exhibit.

Fabric artist Thelma Smith was featured in the textile exhibit
of the gallery. What began as a quest to find her homeless son
pioneered Smith’s career in textile art.

With quilted material as her means of expression, Smith creates
portraits of homeless men, women and children.

A portion of the Downtown Center is dedicated to the Pomona Art
Youth exhibit year-round. The annual showcase featured 32 pieces of
art by regional elementary and middle school students. Some of the
art included Japanese Sumi-e Ink paintings, Egyptian Hieroglyphics
and Hispanic tradition paper maches.

The Downtown Center strives to facilitate the teaching and
understanding of cultural diversity through art workshops, youth
programs and community events. This collaborative
community-university partnership is a venue for artist creativity
and learning.

The opening receptions provided individuals with a brief
overview of different cultural heritages. Although the cold weather
deterred some from attending, the evident local support from the
Cal Poly community and residents made the event a success.

Miesha Payne-Reid can be reached at or by
phone (909) 869-3744.

Native Dance Inspires Artwork

Native Dance Inspires Artwork

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