Ramp It Up: Skateboard Culture in Native America, a Smithsonian exhibit, appeals to skaters and non-skaters alike. It’s gravity-defying, gnarly and full of stories that help you understand how Native culture and skateboarding culture intertwine. Many folks have already been so amazed by the art they’ve come back for a second look.
“I skated. This brings back memories – lots of skate stories,” one visitor remarked.
“This is awesome,” another said.
See 20 skate decks, photographs and video of Native skaters like the 4-Wheel Warpony skate crew, Bunky Echo-Hawk and the Dogtown Z-Boys. Cruise into the library to see this amazing exhibit, open through August 24.
This is the gallery’s 12th annual art exhibit for children, so teens and kids are asked to bring in parents and grandparents to show off this art form. Also kids are welcome to sit down and get creative designing their own skate deck.
“We recognize the sport is intergenerational. Ramp It Up will bring back memories and also connect families and friends in unexpected ways,” said Heather Kearns, exhibit coordinator. “This seemingly simple activity has interesting broader applications in areas such as fashion, language, education and the formation of niche groups inside America’s diverse Native cultures.”
One skateboarder came in, board-in-hand, to see the exhibit and left saying “I came in to see what was going on. I haven’t been to the library in 10 years.” (We sure hope we have a return customer now:)
Skateboarding is one of the most popular sports on Indian reservations and has inspired and influenced American Indian communities since the ‘60s. Ramp It Up examines the role of indigenous peoples in skateboarding culture, its roots in Hawaiian surfing and the visionary achievements of contemporary Native skaters. The exhibition features the work of visual artists and athletes from the following tribes: Yakama, Pawnee, Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, White Mountain Apache, Navajo and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians among others.
As one customer put it, “I will definitely come back to see the live painting with Bunky Echo-Hawk. I wonder why he drips his paint.” The Pawnee/Yakama artist will be here to ask Aug. 9.
Ramp It Up Upcoming Events
July 22 | 2:00-4:00pm | Marvin Auditorium 101AB
Skateboard Logo and Sticker Design [11-18 years] Young skaters brainstorm a design that best represents both a love of skateboarding and the library. Then, we send it on to be printed on stickers you can put on your board.
August 9 | 11:00am – 3:00pm | Library Rotunda
Live Painting with Bunky Echo-Hawk
Pawnee/Yakama Artist and Activist Bunky Echo-Hawk takes ideas from a live crowd and turns them into art.
Ramp It Up: Skateboard Culture in Native America is organized by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and circulated by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian is the first national museum dedicated to the preservation, study and exhibition of the life, languages, literature, history and arts of the Native peoples of the Western Hemisphere.
See more about the exhibit online here.