High Low High 2024

The High Low High exhibition spawned when Chelsea Radka, a local shop owner with First Nations Oneida/Mohawk heritage, talked with Heidi Lowe, a Lewes jewelry gallery owner, about a recent injustice toward an Indigenous couple that became known to her. The collaborators, working with a well-known athletic brand, reneged on an order of 200 pairs of custom handmade silver and turquoise buttons made by a Diné (Navajo) couple, Marie and Daman Thompson. These buttons were intended to be incorporated into a new collection as part of the collaboration's campaign to celebrate Indigenous cultures and crafts and promote diversity.

When Marie and Daman were ready to deliver the finished buttons, the collaborators tried to haggle over the agreed-upon price. The buyer ended contact with the couple after they could not lower their pricing any more than they already had.

Heidi and Chelsea came together and, after getting Marie and Daman’s blessing, decided to produce an art show. The show intends to turn an unjust situation into something beautiful and thoughtful. It will hopefully bring more awareness to often overlooked situations like these. The buttons were sold to artists for the same amount as the original deal and will be incorporated into new pieces. The buttons act as a starting point for the artists and could be used as they are or be reconfigured, deconstructed, or added to in some fashion. While each piece is a collaboration between the artist, Daman, and Marie, artists were free to approach this from any perspective: as a form of activism, formal exploration, a statement, etc.

“Although we wish this situation had not happened, we hope this exhibition will bring some light to an otherwise uncertain journey. We are so grateful for Daman’s and Marie’s enthusiasm and support for the show and how the artists rose to the occasion and contributed with creativity, kindness, and integrity.”

A week after the exhibition opened in May, the original collaborators returned and purchased the remaining buttons from Daman and Marie. The collaboration resumed with the inclusion of the Thompsons’ work in a limited-edition run.

- Heidi and Chelsea

High Low High is currently on view at Teko Gallery in Albequrque, New Mexico, July 19th-August 19th. The show will then travel to Salt Hill Gallery in Fargo, North Dakota, August 30th-September 30th.

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