Artist and keeper of stories’ « News @ ODU

The Barry Museum of Art at Old Dominion University announces its upcoming exhibition, Rhonda Holy Bear: Artist and Story-Keeper,” which opens on Aug. 30.

This exhibition celebrates the renowned sculptural work of Rhonda Holly Bear (Cheyenne River Lakota) over the past 35 years. Holy Bear is committed to the local tradition of doll making, using painstaking micro beading and other meticulous processes to create their intricate, highly detailed pieces.

“Stories have always played an integral role in preserving our native culture,” Holy Bear said. “Little did I know how much of an impact my grandmother’s stories would have on my life. I sincerely hope that through my work I can play a role in helping to restore, revitalize and ensure the continuity of our Plains Lakota culture.”

Through Dec. 31, an intimate selection of six works will be on display at the Barry Museum of Art, with an accompanying program in November in honor of Native American Heritage Month.

Public programs: The Barry Museum of Art offers free museum admission and free public programs, including Saturday exhibit tours, a monthly lecture series, and after-hours U-Nite events.

Exhibition tours for “Rhonda Holy Bear: Artist and Story-Keeper” are scheduled for 1:00pm on September 3rd, 17th and 24th and October 22nd. Private group tours are available by donation for groups of 6 to 20 guests. To inquire, email [email protected]

The monthly lecture series is held on the first Thursday of each month. At 6:00 p.m. on November 3, “The Work of Hands, the Weaving of a Story” will present Holy Bear in a virtual lecture from his home studio in Nevada. She will share stories and the techniques she relies on to create her intricate sculptures.

Monthly out-of-hours events bring together university and community partners to deepen our understanding and explore the themes represented by the art on view. This U-Nite series is held on the second Friday of each month.

At 5pm on November 11, U-Nite: Story & Craft will focus on local craft traditions from across the country. Participants will see demonstrations and experience the processes with their own hands. Guest curator Sarah Woodbury will lead guided tours of our exhibit, “Rhonda Holy Bear: Artist & Story-Keeper,” which features hand-beaded puppets and intricate feather work worthy of close-up exploration. Enjoy live music, refreshments and educational entertainment at the museum as we celebrate local culture and customs.

For the full fall schedule, visit

Rhonda Holy Bear: Artist and Story-Keeper is a Woodbury curator, Ph.D. candidate in American Studies at the College of William and Mary. Barry Art Museum’s curation and programs are led by a team of Exhibitions and Organizations Advisory Committee members, including Keith Anderson, Assistant Chief of the Nansemond Indian Nation; Rhonda Holly Bear, featured artist, Lakota Nation; Stephen Greif, Curator of Art, Maryhill Art Museum; Charlotte Potter Kasich, Executive Director, Barry Art Museum; and Drew Lopenzina, Professor of Early American and Native American Literature, Old Dominion University.

Additional support for the exhibition was provided by Holy Bear, The Brinton Museum in Big Horn, Wyoming, and Susan and David Good.

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