Under the Guidance of Haŋwí

Under the Guidance of Haŋwí

On view in the Creation.Story Exhibition

The exhibit focuses on the contemporary interpretations of the Ocheti Sakowin creation stories. A collaborative exhibit featuring the work of Oglala Lakota artist Keith Braveheart and nine other Lakota artists. 

The words and images we use to communicate differ between cultures and change from generation to generation. Creation.Story explores how a culture’s most important messages find a way to endure. This show is a contemporary version of the (Lakota) creation story, a collaborative exhibit featuring the MFA thesis work of Oglala Lakota artist Keith Braveheart.

The exhibit is co-curated by Keith BraveHeart and David A Meyer II – together they expanded the exhibit to include the work of nine additional artists, who created work specifically for this show. 

Aktá Lakota Museum | Chamberlain, SD
December 20, 2021 – May 20, 2022

The Heritage Center at Red Cloud Indian School | Pine Ridge, SD
September 2022 – May 2023

Brinton Museum | Big Horn, Wyoming

Under the Guidance of Haŋwí

Vector illustration, 30”x24” metal print

​In Dakota/Lakota stories, Wí refers to the Sun & Moon: Haŋwí (evening light), is the lunar version. She is the wife of the sun, Aŋpétu Wí (morning light), but due to his act of indiscretion, she hides under a cloak whenever he is near — that is why the moon has different phrases. She represents women when they are young, middle-aged and elderly through her moon phrases.

Traditionally, there is a connection between women’s menstrual cycles and the moon’s cycle; when a woman was on her moontime, it was considered a very sacred time of inner purification. In this way, one could say Haŋwí is the “goddess” of motherhood and represents feminine power. In current day ceremonies, women on their moontime are usually prohibited from attending; the power of the moon is still respected as inner purification stronger than even that of the ceremonies such as the sweat lodge.

This piece was created in Adobe Illustrator and printed on metal. It features Haŋwí, the spirit of the moon, surrounded by symbols representing the 13 lunar months.

The use of a circle as the foundation of the piece is initial as it represents Čháŋhdéška Wakháŋ (the sacred hoop), the cycles of nature and our roles as the human beings within it. Kapémni (mirroring, twirling) is a philosophical concept that what happens above in the star world is reflected on our world: besides reflecting the time of the year, mirroring also includes sacred places corresponding with the constellations above. Traditional life revolved around star knowledge, which taught us when to harvest, when to plant, when to hunt, and when to have certain ceremonies. Thus, the months are lunar based and given titles to reflect traditional society reflecting the star world above.

The figure of Haŋwí is one that is standing above us, someone we can look up to in times of needing guidance; her eyes are the brightest features of the piece as representation of being a guiding light in the darkness. Behind Haŋwí is the Wanági Thačháŋku, the spirit road, also known as the Milky Way, that we travel along when leaving this bodily existence.  Beneath Haŋwí is a sea of clouds; appearing as both clouds and as waves, this form represents her power to influence the oceans, the seas, as well as the influence over people (i.e. lunatics) and over women’s menstrual cycles.

Order Prints

Prints start at $750 for a 20″x24 print, limited to a run of 10 prints. Please click the link below to choose your material. Thank you.

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