Dancing for Our Tribe: Potawatomi Tradition in the New Millennium- Opening Reception and Artist Talk
Date and Time:
Aug 5 2022 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Evanston Art Center
1717 Central St., Evanston, IL

Sharon Hoogstraten

Dancing for Our Tribe: Potawatomi Tradition in the New Millennium- Opening Reception and Artist Talk

Community Event

Dancing for Our Tribe: Potawatomi Tradition in the New Millennium

EXHIBITION DATES: July 30 – August 28, 2022
OPENING RECEPTION: Friday, August 5, from 6-9pm, with an artist talk at 6:30pm
GALLERY HOURS: Monday–Friday, 9am–6pm; Saturday and Sunday, 9am–4pm


The Evanston Art Center (EAC) is proud to present a new exhibition, “Dancing for Our Tribe: Potawatomi Tradition in the New Millennium,” featuring work by Sharon Hoogstraten, curated by Fran Joy.

In the heyday of the Anishinaabe Confederacy, the Potawatomis were spread across Canada, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin. Pressured by the westward expansion of the fledgling United States of America, they became the most treatied of any Indian tribes. Forced removals and multiple treaty era relocations resulted in cultural chaos and an enduring threat to their connections to the ancestors. Despite these hardships, they have managed to maintain (or restore) their rich heritage.

Beginning with Citizen Potawatomi Nation, her home reservation in Shawnee, Oklahoma, Sharon Hoogstraten called on all nine nations of the scattered Potawatomi tribe. She has produced photographic evidence and a permanent record of present-day Potawatomis wearing traditional regalia modified to reflect the influence and storytelling of contemporary life. While the old silver monochrome portraits that captured Native life at the turn of the last century are a priceless record of those times, they also contribute to the impression that most Woodland Indian Tribes exist only as remnants of a dimly remembered past. Hoogstraten’s formal portraits, accompanied by personal statements, portray a fresh reality of today’s native descendants and their regalia; people who live in a world of assimilation, sewing machines, proud military service, and high resolution digital cameras.

The Potawatomi Nations have merged loss and optimism to reinforce their legacy for generations to come. The old arts of language, ribbonwork, beading, and quillwork are being learned from the elders with a renewed sense of urgency. Preserving Potawatomi culture, tribal members are translating traditional designs into their own artistic celebration of continuing existence—thus lighting the path forward for the next seven generations and beyond.


Professional photographer Sharon Hoogstraten spent a decade portraying contemporary Potawatomis in regalia and as an unexpected dividend, discovered her own roots. A Michigan native, she traveled to Chicago for graduate study, stayed as a resident having no clue that she was walking in the footsteps of her Potawatomi grandmother, Archange Ouilmette.

Her book, Dancing for Our Tribe: Potawatomi Tradition in the New Millennium, is now available at the University of Oklahoma Press. A career photographer, Hoogstraten previously published Green City Market: A Song of Thanks—a pictorial retrospective of the ground-breaking farmers market that boosted Chicago’s culinary reputation as a nationally acclaimed food destination.

“Dancing for Our Tribe: Potawatomi Tradition in the New Millennium” will be on display in the Evanston Art Center’s Lobby Gallery from July 30 – August 28, 2022, with an opening reception on Friday, August 5, from 6-9pm. The opening reception will also include an artist talk with Sharon Hoogstraten beginning at 6:30pm. The exhibition, opening reception and artist talk are free and open to the public. This project is partially funded by the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, and EAC’s general membership.

Evanston Art Center, a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) organization, is dedicated to fostering the appreciation and expression of the arts among diverse audiences. The Art Center offers extensive and innovative instruction in broad areas of artistic endeavor through classes, exhibitions, interactive arts activities, and community outreach initiatives.

Evanston Art Center is located at 1717 Central Street, Evanston, IL. Evanston Art Center Gallery Hours: Monday– Friday, 9am–6pm; Saturday and Sunday, 9am–4pm. First and second floor gallery spaces are accessible. Limited free parking is available. Masks are optional but strongly recommended for students, visitors, and staff.

For more information, please visit us online at www.evanstonartcenter.org or Audrey Avril, Manager of Exhibitions, at 847.475.5300 or aavril@evanstonartcenter.org. Visit the Evanston Art Center on Facebook: www.facebook.com/EvanstonArtCenter/, follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/#!/evartcenter, or on Instagram: @EvanstonArtCenter.