As Seeds, We Grow: Student Reflections on Resilience

Center of Southwest Studies at Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO
April 27, 2022 – April 5, 2023

As Seeds, We Grow: Student Reflections on Resilience explores student identity and cultural resilience with consideration to Fort Lewis College’s history as a federal Indian boarding school. A collaborative group show that highlighted contemporary work and personal belongings alongside the Center of Southwest Studies historical collections, Boulanger worked with 12 students, 5 alumni, and 5 family contributors, representing 10 tribes and collections dating back to the 1800s. 

This exhibit is only a small aspect of the greater efforts at Fort Lewis to understand the impacts of the boarding school era on Indigenous peoples of the Southwest and beyond. It aims to illustrate how intricate each student and family’s relationship is to the past and the institution, and how their identity is shaped by their place at Fort Lewis College. 

By forming a unified artistic environment, this exhibit’s approach is to bring together a collective and diverse narrative that confronts the implications of our histories continuously being told from a dominant perspective. By asking students to lead the conversation, we present Indigenous students and students of color as innovative contemporary artists, and challenge the way we interact with American history. 

Contributors :
Shenay Atene, Diné, FLC Psychology, minor in NAIS (student contributor);
Kirbie Bennett, Diné, FLC ‘17 (alumni contributor);
Keo Crank, Diné (student contributor);
Ana Henry, Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, FLC Environmental Studies (student contributor);
Hannah Jacks, Cherokee, FLC Communication Design (student contributor);
AJ Lopez, FLC Anthropology & Studio Art (student contributor);
Camela Manheimer, Diné, FLC Communication Design, minors in Gender and Sexuality Studies & Art History (student contributor);
Sam McCullar, Citizen Potawatomi Nation, FLC Native American & Indigenous Studies (student contributor);
Emily McWilliams, Diné, FLC ‘21 (alumni contributor);
Destiny Morgan, Diné & Nahiłii, FLC Communication Design & Psychology (student contributor);
Desirae Rambler, San Carlos Apache, FLC Native American & Indigenous Studies (student contributor);
Andrea L. Rogers, Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma (community contributor);
Eugene Rogers, Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma (family of contributor);
Maddie Sanders, Mvskoke & Mojave, FLC ‘21 (alumni contributor);
Kaitlyn Sebwenna-Painter, Iñupiaq, FLC Psychology (student contributor);
Chloe Umdenstock, Cherokee, FLC Art Education (student contributor);
Rexine Williams, Diné, FLC ‘20 (alumni contributor);

The Stories We Wear

Traveling at Fort Lewis College and the Four Corners Region
November 30, 2022 – September 2023

The Stories We Wear
recognizing and honoring our Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives

An exhibition of three pieces: a ribbon skirt, atikluk, and blanket 
created by Fort Lewis College students and alumni
Accompanied by SASO’s exhibition Sing Our Rivers Red

For those that we have lost, who are still missing, and who have experienced violence:
We are thinking of you, praying for you, and thanking you for your strength.

This ribbon skirt, atikluk, and blanket were prepared and created by a collective of students, staff, and faculty at Fort Lewis College to honor our Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives (MMIR), the ongoing impacts of violence on our communities, and to raise awareness of this international crisis. To represent all our relatives, we chose multi-cultural attire that represents resilience and beauty, with each carrying generations of stories and significance.

Project Leaders
Elise Boulanger - Osage Nation - Studio Art, Art History, Anthropology ‘21 - Center of Southwest Studies
Lauryn Baldwin - Iñupiaq, Japanese - Communication Design, NAIS
Sahalee Martin - Hopi & Chicanx - Psychology, Sociology, NAIS - Rising Matriarchs Leader
Laurel Grimes - Chikasha (Chickasaw), Vietnamese - Communication Design, Studio Art, NAIS, Honors

FLC Student and Alumni Contributors
Jess Anaruk - Yupik, Orutsararmiut Native Council - Environmental Studies
Savannah Armstrong - Iñupiaq - Studio Art
Jordyn Begay - Diné - Psychology, NAIS
Alyssa Begaye - Diné - Accounting
Kailey Becenti - Diné, Colorado River Indian Tribes - Elementary Education, Business
Kirbie Bennett - Diné - Writing ‘17
Keala Alexandra Bratsch - Turtle Mountain Chippewa - Sociology, Borders & Languages, Honors
Imari Bright - Iñupiaq - Anthropology
Paige Brown - Diné - Communication Design
Qootsvenma Denipah Cook - Hopi, Ohkay Owingeh, Diné - Biology, Forensic Studies
Danni Crombie - Gwich’in - Studio Art ‘21
Ellyse Fredericks - Hopi, Diné - Journalism, Writing
Ana Henry - Cherokee - Environmental Studies, Biology
Amber Herrod - Diné, Cheyenne Arapaho, Creek, Cherokee - Biology, Studio Art
Veronica Johnson - Sun’aq Tribe of Kodiak Alaska - Gender & Sexuality Studies, Studio Art
Sloane Kelley - Choctaw - Studio Art
Amber Labahe - Diné - Journalism
Kelsey Lansing - Diné - Psychology, NAIS ‘16 - Sexual Assault Services Organization
JoVonna Miller - Diné - Sociology
Desirae Rambler - San Carlos Apache - NAIS
M. Alex Tsabetsaye - Diné & A:Shiwi - Psychology, Anthropology
Jazmyn Vent - Iñupiaq, Koyukon - NAIS
Tehani Louann Alanaokalani Wa’ahila - Diné - Business
Sage Walstrom - Diné - Environmental Conservation and Management
Rexine Williams - Diné - Public Health ‘20 - Native American Center

Thank you, FLC Faculty & Staff
Cheryl Nixon, Dr. Heather Shotton, Dr. Cory Pillen, Liz Quinn MacMillan, Amy Cao, Gretchen Gray, Rachel McGaw, Simon Chief, Shasta Hampton, Rexine Williams, Lisa Cate, Andreas Tischauser, Melissa Sclafani

Throughline: Student Works Inspired by the Center's Collections

Center of Southwest Studies at Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO
April 2021 — April 2022

As an interdisciplinary student at Fort Lewis College and an intern at the Center of Southwest Studies, Elise Boulanger was inspired to create an exhibit to celebrate her peers’ diverse voices in harmonization with the Center’s collection. With hopes to hold space for her peers and herself to explore personal narratives, she sought to find new, meaningful connections with their place at Fort Lewis College. Over the semester, she collaborated with students through conversations about their backgrounds and learned invaluable lessons about the power of assumptions and the importance of respect for other cultures. The idea that objects are living, made from living beings, passed to living beings, and existing for many generations to come is the theme of Throughline. Each piece in the Center’s collection has a voice that should be heard.

Throughout the semester, each student met with Elise as the student curator several times on a one-on-one basis at the Center of Southwest Studies to look at collections, choose one or more pieces to connect with, research items, and talk about inspiration to create artistic works. They traced stories through the Center’s curatorial team about where objects came from, who made them, what they mean, and how they came to the collections at Fort Lewis College. 

The creation of original art emerged from connecting the emotions they felt about the collection pieces with the deeper research they delved into. This research, using the Center’s database, online resources, or direct communication with professional artists, broadened their insights into the pieces’ larger cultural, historical, or artistic contexts.

Zoom opened opportunities to meet with people face-to-face that are in different parts of the country, like Garrett Ettisity, artist mentor, and Jack Townes, museum preparator. Throughout the creation of this exhibit, they talked about the value of art as therapy and personal expression that has been crucial to wellbeing this past year. This project would have looked a lot different if it were not for the amazing steps the college took to keep the community safe.


Student Participants: Elise Boulanger, Studio Art (Osage); Danni Crombie, Studio Art (Gwich’in); Chloe’ Umdenstock, Art Education (Cherokee); Laurel Grimes, Communication Design (Chikasha, Vietnamese, Cherokee, Irish); Destiny Morgan, Studio Art (Diné , Nahiłii); Qootsvenma Denipah-Cook, Biology (Ohkay Owingeh, Hopi, Diné); AJ Lopez, Anthropology + Native American Indigenous Studies; Shalee Rowley, Creative Writing; Cheyenne Williams, Journalism (Muscogee [Creek]); Hannah Jacks, Communication Design (Cherokee); Stella Atkinson - preferred name is Soggy John, Studio Art; Kobi Gyetvan, Studio Art + Marketing (Latinx); V. Barney, Communication Design + Sports Administration (Diné, Laguna Pueblo); Ben Rogers, Art Education; Maddie Lamb - preferred name is Maddie Sanders, Communication Design (Mvskoke & Mojave); Emily McWilliams, Biology + Anthropology (Diné); Emily’s sister and grandmother also created pieces for the show - Claire McWilliams and Lillie Coleman.


Funded by the Ballantine Family Fund and a Mellon Undergraduate Research Grant

Student Skateboard Deck Art Inspired by PIVOT

Fort Lewis College Reed Library + Student Union in Durango, CO
March 2020 — May 2021

Inspired by the PIVOT Skateboard Deck Art traveling exhibit curated by Duane Koyawena and Landis Bahe on display at the Center of Southwest Studies in Durango, CO.

- Participants : Tayen Booth, Danni Crombie, Qootsvenma Denipah-Cook, Nadya Erlandson, Zyan Frauen, Marina Galasso, Skyler Kling, Maddie Lamb, Elise Lilburn, Noah Lindenthal, Damian Linscott, AJ Lopez, Destiny Morgan, Benjamin Rogers, Chloe’ Umdenstock, Kara Vadeboncoeur, Kaylan Yazzie and Clarissa Zeller.

- “This project excited me for many reasons - a huge one being that I wanted students’ art showcasing their identity to be represented across campus and not just in the art building. The greatest way to celebrate our diversity is through art. I also love working with other students on collaborative projects.” - Elise Lilburn

Collaborative Amoebas

Fort Lewis College Reed Library in Durango, CO

Gouache on Yupo

Participants : Elise Lilburn, Kailyn Farrell, Skyler Kling, Matthias Biggs, Keirstyn Peters, Mandy Petersen, Alex Ekey, Zyon Frauen, JP Pankoff, Gabby Miller, & Chloe Umdenstock - Funded by the Student Research, Scholarly and Creative Activity Grant