Native Artist Louie Gong Shares New Art Toy To Explore Self-Identity

Event Dec. 8 Will Feature Native and Local Artists with Demonstrations
December 7, 2012
News Release

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The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian will host a free event, Design Yourself: IAMNMAI, Saturday, Dec. 8, at 7 p.m. at the museum in Washington, D.C. This event will feature Louie Gong (Nooksack/Chinese/Scottish/French), a Seattle-based educator, activist and artist, and his newly released customizable art toy Mockups. Louie’s latest creation is a DIY (do-it-yourself) design toy based on his work with youth and his desire to a make the experience of personalizing a pair of shoes more accessible. Mockups are 7-inch white, molded plastic shoes that are a blank canvas; any medium can be used to decorate them. Design Yourself: IAMNMAI is a multilayered artistic partnership designed to explore issues of identity, community and mixed heritage through art.

Gong was raised by his grandparents in the Nooksack tribal community. He is the past president of Mavin, co-developer of the Mixed Heritage Center and a former child and family therapist. Gong is also the founder of Eighth Generation, through which he merges traditional Coast Salish art and icons from popular culture to make strong statements about identity, such as his highly sought-after, hand-drawn custom shoes.

Native artists Chris Pappan (Osage/Kaw/Cheyenne River Lakota Sioux) and wife Debra Yepa-Pappan (Jemez Pueblo/Korean) along with local guest artists, including Lisa Schumaier, an artist and educator at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, Va., and Lee Newman an artist and educator will join Gong for an interactive evening of creativity, dance, music and celebration. Local DJ Will Eastman will provide the evening’s entertainment while guests will be able to work on their own pair of Mockups. A display of Gong’s artwork, including his custom shoes, and Mockups created by guest artists will be displayed in the Potomac Atrium through Dec. 13. The Mockups and cuisine from the Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe will be available for purchase during the event. For more information, visit

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