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Exhibition creator Pato Hebert addresses the audience at the April 10 opening reception. Photograph by Caleb Eckert.
Exhibition creator Pato Hebert addresses the audience at the April 10 opening reception. Photograph by Caleb Eckert.

Exhibition Offers a Meditation on Lenape Language, Culture, and History

As Crow Flies Counterclockwise, the exhibition currently running in the Sharpless Gallery of Magill Library, defies categorization. Is it a history lesson? An art installation? A creative interpretation of Lenape culture? As exhibition creator Pato Hebert might tell you, it's all of these things. Using the Lenape prophecy of the Fourth Crow as a framework (literal and figurative), As Crow Flies Counterclockwise tells a story of the Lenape (the traditional people of eastern Pennsylvania and southern New York and New Jersey) from before European settlement in the 17th century through the resulting death and destruction, up to the more recent resurgence of Lenape culture and traditions in our region. In doing so, the exhibition offers a meditation on encounter and connection, language and translation, loss and remembering.

Hebert, an intermedia artist and educator as well as a Mellon Creative Resident at Haverford, collaborated with Shelley DePaul, Chief of the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania and Instructor of Lenape Language at Swarthmore College, on the exhibition. Together, they weave themes of Lenape history and tradition throughout: a tree emerging from a turtle shell, representing the story of turtle carrying cedar and giving a home to all the creatures of the world; a fluttering photograph of the Delaware Water Gap, where the Lenape first came into the world; a Christian hymnal; Meesing on a fence post, representing the hidden modes of communication that the Lenape have used. The overall effect can be disorienting but also moving and surprisingly hopeful.

As Crow Flies Counterclockwise runs from April 10 to August 29, 2014 in Magill Library's Sharpless Gallery. More information can be found on the exhibition page.

Prof. Anita Isaacs (Political Science) and students cross Founders Green after class.

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