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Teters Unlocks 'Prisons of Image' for Lecture on American Indian Depiction


March 14, 2003

[ Charlene Teters Photo ] DELAWARE, OHIO -- When Charlene Teters realized the impact degrading depictions of American Indian caricatures had on her children, she began to speak out.

On March 20, Teters will visit Ohio Wesleyan University to present a lecture, video and slideshow entitled, "Prisons of Image: American Indian Names and Mascots in Sports and the Media" at 8 p.m. in Gray Chapel.

As an artist, activist and lecturer, Teters challenges the inappropriate use of American Indian images, culture and spirituality. However, her art was not always surrounded by such a political context.

Ohio Wesleyan assistant professor of fine arts, Jon Quick said, "Charlene Teters is a captivating speaker and talented artist who combines her interest in visual art with a passion for social justice. Charlene is provoked by racism. She is outspoken on this issue and exposes areas of this topic that are seldom considered. Her lecture will highlight some of her recent artistic productions as well as her efforts as a social activist."

When Teters began her career as an artist, she painted in the style readily defined and publicly accepted by the art market as "Indian Art." But when she traveled to the Midwest to attend a masters program at the University of Illinois, she was confronted with their mascot, a racist depiction of an "Indian chief." Her activism culminated in a nationally aired and award-winning documentary, In Whose Honor?, which chronicles her evolution as a mother and student into a leading voice against the merchandising of Native American symbols.

Today, she is an internationally recognized and sought after artist who expresses her personal and political views about American dehumanization of Indian people by creating multimedia installations that examine the their social presumptions and portrayals in pop culture and media.

Teters is currently a professor of art at the Institute of American Indian Art in Santa Fe, NM. She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Illinois and was presented an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Art from Mitchell College. Teters is also a founding Board member of the National Coalition on Racism in Sports and the Media. She was honored by ABC's World News Tonight in 1997 as "Person of the Week" for her commitment to her work and her people.

Her lecture is sponsored by the Department of Fine Arts, New York Arts Program, American Indian Movement in Northern Kentucky and Ohio, Jarvis Stewart Lecture Fund, Department of Women's Studies, Provost's Office and Chaplain's Office.