Mistreatment of Native American women focus of artist show in Allentown
ALLENTOWN, Pa. — In her new work, artist and singer Phoebe Legere draws inspiration from two issues she feels are ignored in mainstream society.
Legere will present her "Evanescent Landscapes, Vanishing Women," exhibit, which addresses the mistreatment of Native Americans at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 16, at Arthaus Gallery, 645 Hamilton St., Allentown.
- Artist and musician Phoebe Legere's new exhibit "Evanescent Landscapes: Vanishing Women" addresses the mistreatment of Native Americans
- Legere will perform new music and lead a discussion at Allentown's Arthaus Gallery on Thursday, March 16
- Proceeds from sales will go toward the Foundation of New American Art, which provides free music and art classes to children in New York City public schools and a summer camp in Emmaus
"This is a show that calls attention to the missing and murdered Native American women that have been disappearing by the thousands from all over North America and South America," Legere said.
"They are kidnapped, sex trafficked and it's a terrible tragedy that is just beginning to be recognized."
At the "Harmonies of Hope" performance that evening, Legere, who toured with iconic singer David Bowie in the 1990s, also will present new music about the climate crisis, while paying tribute to her Native American roots.
Raising money for art education
Proceeds from sales that evening will benefit Foundation for New American, an organization founded by Legere that provides free music and art classes to low-income children in New York City's public schools, and at a summer camp in the Lehigh Valley.
"We hosted a summer camp for many years at South Mountain Farm in Emmaus," she said. "And we will be doing it again at this year."
Legere, who was part of the 1980s New York underground art scene, counts Larry Rivers, Allen Ginsberg, Peter Beard, Joni Mitchell, Hunter Thompson and Bowie as former collaborators.
But nowadays, she is more focused on educating youth.
"After the financial crisis in 2008, New York City eliminated art and music lessons for 80 percent of the school children. I felt like it was a tragedy," she said.
"Art and music saved my life, so the universe called on me to do this service and it is one of the great joys of my life to teach what I know to the great visionary artist of the future."
"Art and music saved my life, so the universe called on me to do this service and it is one of the great joys of my life to teach what I know to the great visionary artist of the future."Artist Phoebe Legere
In 2022, Foundations for New American was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Grant for its work, and this year got a New York Department of Cultural Affairs grant in support of "Paint Brushes Not Guns: Multimedia and the Power of Cultural Memory," a free program for artists 8 to 12 years old.
Most recently, Legere and four other teachers organized an arts and music program at a public school in Queens, New York.
Legere wanted the foundation's hiring process to foster diversity.
"Two of the teachers were Indigenous, one was a person of color and the other teacher was a member of the LGBTQ community," she said.
Paying tribute to her Native American heritage
Legere's newest work is centered heavily around Native American themes and imagery, drawing a parallel between racial inequalities and how the planet is "misused by man."
As a descendant of the Abenaki tribe, she believes there is a connection between the mistreatment of Indigenous people and climate change.
"You might [ask], 'What do missing and murdered Native Americans have in common with endangered rivers, streams and oceans?'" she said.
"There's a strong connection between violence to women and violence to the environment. You have to look at history not only from a women's perspective but also from the viewpoint of Indigenous people and nature itself."
During the mini-concert, she will perform songs in English, French and Abenaki.
"Abenaki sounds very much like Lenape, the Indigenous [tribes] in the Lehigh Valley," she said. "I will be singing traditional songs that are more than 11,000 years old."
Admission to "Evanescent Landscapes: Vanishing Women" is free. The exhibit will be on display at the gallery through April 25.