Since Fall 2016, Kenwood students annually engage in a series of art projects introducing them to contemporary Native American art practices rooted in tradition and history.
- Kindergarten students previously created “Tree of Life” artworks as they learned about mid-20th century painter Norval Morriseau (Ojibwe), founder of the Woodland style of painting. This year, Kenwood welcomed Wóokiye Wi (Ojibway/Dakota) as its kindergarten artist in residence.
- First grade students met artist James D. Autio (Ojibwe) for a presentation of his artwork and a question and answer session. Then the students painted with James using Ojibwe family clan symbols and designs. James returned this year as Kenwood's first-grade artist in residence.
- Second grade students met painter Gordon Coons (Ojibwe, Ottawa) for a presentation of his Woodlands style artwork. Then Gordon led them in an exercise to create their own personal artwork with a meaning and story behind their drawings. Gordon returned this year as Kenwood's second-grade artist in residence.
- Third grade students previously met with Kenwood parent alumni Dr. Angie Erdrich (Ojibwe) and Heid Erdrich (Ojibwe). The Erdrichs taught students about Ojibwe baskets, heirloom Dakota corn, porcupine quillwork, and other beautiful items from their personal collections. Students drew an ear of corn as a related art project using observational drawing. This year, Kenwood welcomed Graci Horne (Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota, Hunkpapa Lakota, Dakota) as its third-grade artist in residence.
- Fourth grade students previously met Dyani White Hawk (Lakota) for a presentation of her artwork and a lesson on abstraction. She then led the students in an abstract collage art project. This year, Kenwood welcomed returning artist-in-residence Marlena Myles (Spirit Lake Dakota, Mohegan, Muscogee) as its fourth-grade artist in residence.
- Fifth grade students learned about the mid-20th century artist Patrick DesJarlait (Ojibwe) who painted the seasonal work of Ojibwe people of the Red Lake Nation. Students focused on the fish that the Ojibwe catch in Red Lake, which DesJarlait depicted in his paintings. Each student created a watercolor painting of one of these fish (Walleye, Bass, Northern Pike, Crappie and Perch). Students layered colors and added detail in the style of DesJarlait. This year, Kenwood welcomed returning artist-in-residence Dr. Erdrich as its fifth-grade artist in residence.
An exhibit of students' 2023-24 artwork is on display in the main and lower corridors of Kenwood until mid-December.
Kenwood PTA sponsors this residency. Dr. Erdrich, Heid Erdrich, and our artists in residence have graciously given countless hours of their time and expertise to make these experiences possible. They have shown how to teach about present day Native Americans while avoiding stereotypes, misinformation, and the tendency to discuss Native culture as frozen in time. The residency addresses important questions about respecting legacy such as how to pay homage without crossing into cultural appropriation. It has attracted the interest and support of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, which based its "Native Art, Native Voices: A Resource for K-12 Learners" resource on curriculum developed by former Kenwood art teacher Margaret Swenson in collaboration with Native artists.