Manchester Link Gallery Leaves
The Link Gallery is featuring indigenous art and texts from the book “From It to Thou.”
Photo provided by Carly Greaves

Link Gallery Hosts Exhibition of Indigenous Art, Texts

Kristina Bubb

Manchester University’s Link Gallery is showcasing indigenous art and texts from the book “From It to Thou.”

The exhibition is focused on giving the viewer a different mindset of the nature around them, from an indigenous perspective. Giving an alternative viewpoint of naturally occurring objects can be difficult, but the use of James Gabbard’s photography and Peter Bella’s typography gives a beautiful introduction to the matter.

The walls of the Link Gallery are covered in photographs that only feature items from nature. Complementing them are notes that describe the image in one word, both in English and in the indigenous language Sequoyah of the Cherokee Nation.

The book that the gallery is based on gives a deeper explanation to the artists’ work. Their focus was on Joseph Campbell’s book, “The Power of Myth.” In this book, Campbell states: “American Indians treated all life as a thou, which if viewed this way, would then completely change the relationship a person has to everything around them.” Campbell dives deeper into this analysis by explaining how the American Indians cherished the buffalo and thought them to be a sacred animal. However, the white man did not have the same views as the American Indians and instead slaughtered these buffalo with their repeating rifles.

Thelma Rohrer, who oversees the gallery, said that the show “focuses on the ‘we’ as westerners.” She continued: “For the majority of the viewers here and on campus, they will think of the bison as an ‘it’ instead of the spirit.” The images are there to remind the viewer that everything has a purpose in life. “Photos such as a leaf lying in water or on the ground are used to promote the idea that rather than just a leaf on the ground, it will decompose and become nutrients for a nearby tree,” said James Gabbard in his artist’s statement.

This is a traveling show, so it has seen many different formats and locations. “This exhibit came to us,” Rohrer said. “We have partnerships and friends in Northeast Indiana so it’s a celebration of the arts.” Manchester University worked with the Garrett Museum to put on this show. “We make our own art, but we also welcome art from other places,” Rohrer said.

The Link Gallery is the perfect place to showcase indigenous art. Most of the art pieces are shown on a brick wall, “Bricks are made of mud,” Rohrer said. “This show is about the Earth. It really resonates.” She added: “It’s a very crisp show. It’s so carefully presented.”

The exhibit also allows the viewer to see some behind-the-scenes process of creating the typography. “This is about the process of art,” Rohrer said. “And that’s what this panel is for.” She gestured toward the back wall of the Link Gallery, which has a display case filled with wood block stamps as well as craving tools that Peter Bella used. “The artist made of all these blocks, and those are the handmade tools,” Rohrer said.

“From It to Thou” will be displayed in the Link Gallery for the rest of the year. Rohrer encourages students as well as the public to come see the works. “It invites you to visit it anytime and experience the passage,” she said.