Warm Springs artist and educator Roberta J. Kirk is among four individuals and one group to receive the 2020 Governor’s Arts Awards.
Gov. Kate Brown last week announced award winners. Along with Kirk, they are: Darrell Grant, a jazz musician and educator from Portland; John Laursen, a writer, designer, editor and typographer from Portland; Toni Pimble, the founding artistic director of the Eugene Ballet; and Portland Gay Men’s Chorus in Portland.
“Not only do the arts enrich our quality of life and local economies, arts education is key in fostering a spirit of creativity and innovation in our youth,” Brown said in a press release from Oregon Arts Commission/Oregon Culture Trust.
Oregon’s highest honor for exemplary service to the arts, the 2020 Governor’s Arts Awards were celebrated during a virtual ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 12, on the Oregon Arts Commission Facebook page. Award recipients were selected from a pool of 48 nominations received from across the state.
Members of the 2020 review committee included Shelly Toon Lindberg of Hood River, an artist and executive director of Columbia Gorge Arts in Education.
H'Klumaiyat Roberta Joy Kirk
H’Klumaiyat Roberta Joy Kirk is a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs (CTWS). Tenino, Wasq’u on her mother’s side and Diné on her father’s side, Kirk is widely known for her traditional and award-wining beadwork. Kirk learned to bead by observing her older sister’s intricate work.
“Beadwork and regalia making is very important to our people,” Kirk explained. “We always show ourselves to Creator in our finest wear, and so we make beautiful clothing for our children and families.”
She makes beaded buckskin dresses, moccasins, beaded bags, beaded eagle fans, barrettes and buckskin burial outfits for men, women and children.
Over the years, Kirk has volunteered to take on several apprentices, teaching not just beadwork but the beliefs and ceremonies that make the beadwork meaningful.
She has taught countless women how to do beadwork and dentalium work for regalia and everyday clothing and has conducted several workshops on Plateau dressmaking.
Kirk also serves as a traditional food gatherer for the Simnasho Longhouse. She has a degree in museology and three-dimensional arts from the Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico (1985) and has worked in a variety of museum positions, including at the Museum at Warm Springs and the National Museum of the American Indian.
She was a board member for the Museum at Warm Springs from 2000-2020 and at present is a consultant for The High Desert Museum in Bend.
From 2002 to 2019, Kirk was the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act coordinator for the CTWS Cultural Resources Department and the review and compliance coordinator.
She has been awarded funding three times to serve as a master artist for Oregon Folklife Network’s Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program.
In 2020, the national First People’s Fund awarded her a Community Spirit Award.
The Arts Commission
The Arts Commission provides funding and arts programs through grants, special initiatives and services. Nine commissioners, appointed by the governor, determine needs and establish policies. The Arts Commission became part of the Oregon Business Development Department in 1993.
The Arts Commission is supported with state and federal funds and funds from the Oregon Cultural Trust.