KALISPELL — A Flathead Reservation artist is telling the stories of Native American women through her own artwork on exhibit at Kalispell’s KALICO Art Center.
We talked with Monica Gilles-Brings Yellow about her collection of paintings showcasing Native American “Origin Stories.”
“A lot of times you will see paintings of people, but you will have no idea who they are,” Gilles-Brings Yellow said. “Nobody talks about what happened in their lives, so this is a chance to give them respect that I think that they have very much deserved.”
The Indigenous artist is giving voice to powerful Native American women in her new exhibit titled “Origin Stories.” The exhibit at Kalispell’s Kalico Art Center features 10 paintings in various mediums including resins, markers, ink and acrylic paint. Gilles-Brings Yellow refers to her work as 3D Collage Art.
“I am adding things to paint such as chemicals or heat and playing with densities and seeing which colors are going to pop up which colors are going to blend. It’s pretty crazy, it depends on the painting, sometimes theirs’s fire involved, I just don’t know.”
Gilles-Brings Yellow says each painting combines historical images of Native American women dating back to the turn of the 20th century. She added the images provide a platform to tell their stories.
“I’m also really honored to be able to do this and to be able to highlight the different native women that are in the show and be able to tell their stories, because that’s not something that always happens, specifically with Native American women.”
Gilles-Brings Yellow lives in Missoula where she works full time as a therapist in group home settings. Until recently, she had only focused on her artwork on a part-time basis but started giving more attention to her passion during the pandemic.
“This is my first solo exhibition, so that time I had taken part in exhibitions -- but had never been in one that was totally focused on my work,” Gilles-Brings Yellow said. “So, that’s kind of what I’ve been waiting for, I was like this is what I want to do.”
Gilles-Brings Yellow says each piece of artwork takes close to two months to finish. Her Origin Stories will be on display at KALICO Art Center through April 30. Click here for additional information.