Migrations of Art Near and Far

As this full harvest moon shines on the autumn equinox, flights of migration and vast bird murmurations are happening! And as promised in my previous post about the artists that make Lawrence well-known as a creative place, I have more to share from local artists and their artworks in our community.

This time in addition to nearby creations, I am pointing to work worth visiting outside of our area by Lawrence-based artists. I also want to recommend my personal recent Image is of the book cover Thirty Names of Night by Zeyn Joukhadarfavorite art-filled reads. I am reveling in the beautifully written complex tale of The Thirty Names of Night by Zeyn Joukhadar. This is heartfelt and provocative resistance to marginalization and a descriptively vivid sensory experience. Alternating chapters of two interconnected eras, one in contemporary New York and the other from the 1920s in French occupied Syria, are narrated by introspective artists who both celebrate birds and their Syrian family heritages with a strong sense of place. Several characters are exploring their gender identity and sexuality. The present-day narrator is non-binary. They scratch out their given name throughout the book—which no longer fits—and finally chooses the name Nadir, a word meaning rare.

In a voice which resonates long-lived feelings of loss and grief, Nadir speaks to their mother who died 5 years ago; she was an ornithologist and now is a very present ghost. Feeling such strong connections to mom, Nadir continues mom’s search for an elusive and scientifically unverified bird species. The story is ultimately hopeful rather than tragic.

With much to ponder, I am returning to glean more insight with a second reading. Author Zeyn Joukhadar, opens a new window is trans-masculine, of Syrian descent, and born in the U.S. He was awarded both the Lambda Literary Award for Transgender / Bisexual / GenderQueer fiction and the Stonewall Barbara Gittings Literature Award for this title. His previous book The Map of Salt and Stars won the Middle East Book Award in Youth Literature. Both novels reflect reverence for Syrian characters who are coming-of-age, thoughtfully link current and historical storylines, and honor culture and spirituality from the global region of South West Asia and North Africa (SWANA) with reference to ʻAttār’s thirteenth-century Sufi fable of a great bird who leads all birds to find the divine within themselves.

To better understand the SWANA spiritual and cultural context within Joukhadar’s tale, I recommend two related books which happen to be artfully illustrated. Both of these books share the title The Conference of the Birds, based on ʻAttār’s parable, but one is a children’s book adapted by Alexis York Lumbard, opens a new window and the other is an adult book of poetry by Peter Sís, opens a new window. I hope you will explore these books and the art noted below!

Now to reveal more of the creative endeavors of Lawrence’s artists!

Image is of a large bird created from used furniture pieces that is hanging on a rustic stone and brick wall
Bird5 by Jeremy Rockwell at Cider Gallery until Oct 22

Calendar of art shows and happenings:

Image is of brightly painted lilies on a red background
Lilies by Marty Olson, see many artists' in the Lilies Invitational at Do's Deluxe through mid October
Image is of a Greek vase decorated with a golden owl and rust colored border and leaf desgins
Athena's Owl silkscreen print by KH at Do's Deluxe through mid October

Image is of a close up photo of colorful beaded detail on a tree cutting with wavy wood grains
HaHou by Mona Cliff
Image is of an elaborately decorated dress in vivid blues; the skirt is covered in images of space flight and crows, and a shawl of multicolored feathers
SpaceCrow by Liza MacKinnon

Image is of a silver necklace with a large white dendritic agate pendant
Sterling silver and Dendritic Agate pendant by Julie Kingsbury
Image is of a painting of an open expanse of prairie
Prairie Draw by Lisa Grossman

I began to highlight public art in my earlier blog; in case you missed that post, see A Collection of Artists’ Works & Reading Recommendations, opens a new window. And please read on for more inspiring publicly viewable art.

Image is of Dr. Daniel Wildcat standing in front of portraits of Dr. Wildcat & Vine Deloria Jr. by Steven Grounds
Dr. Daniel Wildcat stands with a portrait of himself and Dr. Vine Victor Deloria Jr., created by Steven Grounds at Haskell Indian Nations University's Tommaney Library. Photo courtesy of Carrie Cornelius

Several of Steven Grounds’ large mural portraits of Native Americans adorn the interior walls of Tommaney Library at Haskell Indian Nations University. Grounds is a Haskell alumnus, from the Navajo, Euchee, Creek and Seminole tribes. Sonwai Wakayuta (Hualapai and Hopi) is an artist and environmental studies major at Haskell who collaborated with Steven Grounds; Wakayuta’s meaningful and colorful works complement Grounds' portraits and are worth a visit to the Haskell campus.

Image is of a female artist wearing a hat posing with 3 of her colorful murals
Sonwai Wakayuta with her murals at Haskell Indian Nations University's Tommaney Library. Photo courtesy of Carrie Cornelius

The new Lawrence Memorial Hospital (LMH) Health West Campus features an impressive range of artworks to justify non-medical reasons to either catch the bus or make the drive to the northwest side of town. Read about the partnership between Lawrence Arts Center and LMH, opens a new window.

The powerful mural In Good Standing Amidst the Powers that Be by Missy McCoy & Ardys Ramberg lives on the south wall of Cottin’s Hardware building at 1832 Massachusetts Street. And a new collaboration is in the works with Missy McCoy, Ardys Ramberg, and Dave Loewenstein. They are creating a mural to face the Cottin's Hardware Farmers Market on the east side of the building.

Image is of a mural depicting a great tree enduring a storm of turmoil
In Good Standing Amidst the Powers that Be by Missy McCoy & Ardys Ramberg. Photo courtesy of Malcolm Lodwick

Many vivid community-focused murals throughout Lawrence were made collaboratively with lead artist Dave Loewenstein. The Return of the Pollinators Mural is one of the most prominent of these, located in the Saturday Farmers' Market space in the 800 block of New Hampshire Street. The Spencer Museum of Art offers photos and information about the Pollinators Mural online at https://www.spencerart.ku.edu/pollinators-mural, opens a new window.

Loewenstein co-wrote the book, Kansas Murals: A Traveler's Guide, with fellow artist Lora Jost. Their book shares passion and personal expertise to enjoy Kansas via mural arts. This book is available at the KU Libraries or you may request it via interlibrary loan with this link, https://lawrencepubliclibrary.on.worldcat.org/v2/oclc/65978536, opens a new window.

And finally returning to the very nearby, Lawrence Public Library has a gallery wall available to display artwork. Learn more and see the Library Art Exhibit Calendar at lplks.org/art-exhibit-proposal, opens a new window.

I hope I have revealed both art and art-filled reads of interest to you. Best wishes for your autumn season to be creatively blissful!


I am inspired to acknowledge traditional Native lands. In our region near the Kansas (Kaw) and Wakarusa Rivers, I want to honor the Dakota, Delaware (Lenape), Kansa (Kaw), Kickapoo, Lakota, Osage, Sac and Fox, Shawnee, and actually hundreds more tribes who find connection here with Haskell Indian Nations University. As Ken Lassman (author of Wild Douglas County, opens a new window and Kaw Valley Almanac, opens a new window) noted: “Haskell Indian Nations University is the United Nations of tribes, with members of hundreds of tribes coming here over the lifetime of its existence.

Appreciation to Dr. Denise Low, opens a new window (Delaware (Lenape) and Cherokee heritage) for helping me make sure I acknowledged each Native American tribe by their preferred name.

My gratitude to each artist for sharing generously with images and thoughtful notes about their work and reading, opens a new window.

Thanks to Carrie Cornelius (Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin and Prairie Band Potawatomi) for big-heartedly sharing information and photos!

Cover image credit: Dr. Daniel Wildcat (a Yuchi member of the Muscogee Nation of Oklahoma) is standing in front of portraits of Dr. Wildcat and Vine Deloria, Jr. (Hunkpapa Lakota) by artist Steven Grounds (Navajo, Euchee, Creek and Seminole), photo courtesy of Carrie Cornelius (Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin and Prairie Band Potawatomi)

- Shirley Braunlich is a Readers' Services Assistant at Lawrence Public Library.

The Thirty Names of Night

The Map of Salt and Stars

The Conference of the Birds

The Conference of the Birds