Briggs Library Associates Juried Art Award Winner
Belinda Threadgil, a first year transfer student and Studio Art major, is the recipient of the 2020 Briggs Library Associates Art Award for her mixed media piece entitled Educate Them.
The piece showcases the Morris Indian Boarding School boy's dormitory, which is the only building still standing from that time period. It is now the home of the Multi Ethnic Resource Center. Surrounding the image of the dormitory are black and white pictures of young Native American students set against a colorful backdrop of a broken Native American star.
Threadgil, a citizen of the Musogee Creek nation, described the piece as a means to educate people about genocide. She wants the viewer to learn from hisory and she sees herself as a bridge connecting the past to the future. It was a long journey for Belinda to get to UMN Morris and her art. When her kids were born many years ago she decided to hang up her paintbrushes and focus on being a mother. Now they are grown and out on their own. All have college degrees. It is rare for a Native American family to have parents and children all with advanced degrees, but in Belinda's case this was no accident. Her father always told her that, "If you get an education you can do anything," and Belinda and her husband modeled that belief with their children evey chance they got.
Now Belinda is finally back in the studio and finishing her undergaraduate degree, a process she started before her kids were born when she received her Associates degree. So it came as quite a surprise to her when the first piece she had made in decades won an award.
"I was shocked beyond words," she explained. "It's a privilige."
That success came about with careful planning that started before she put a paintbrush in her hand. First she went to the library and researched the topic of boarding schools. With the help of libraians and archivists, of which she is very grateful, she found books and materials that informed her project and enriched her understanding. The result is a beautiful piece that honors the past by educating the viewer and begs for understanding so that such tragedy will not be repeated.