Tracing the Evolution of American Indian Fine Art: 1920s to the Present Day
Native News Network Staff in Entertainment. Discussion »
Daphnie Odjig, Odawa-Potawatomi, pencil sketch
EVANSTON, ILLINOIS – A major new temporary exhibition at the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian in Evanston offers a sweeping survey of regional styles and trends in modern Native American art while tracing its evolution from ancient times to the present day.
Organized by the Mitchell Museum, "Another View of American Indian Fine Art" will open March 16 and will remain open through September 1, 2013.
A curator's tour of the new exhibit will take place at 2 pm on March 16. A preview for Mitchell Museum members is scheduled for 6:00 pm on March 14.
A sequel to the recent exhibit "Changing Views of American Indian Fine Art," the new, expanded exhibit focuses on significant developments in Native art from the 1920s to the present era in diverse cultures across the US and Canada.
On view are more than 80 works of art, primarily paintings, prints, pottery, and sculpture on loan from private collectors and from the museum's permanent collection. In addition, there are works in other media, such as animal hide paintings.
Elsie Klengenberg Holman, Inuit, Catching print
The survey of cultural areas takes into account the impact of influential American Indian art schools, including art academies as well as groups of artists sharing common influences.
A section on the Northwest Coast illustrates how artists there have continued to focus on traditional subjects and themes while employing modern techniques and materials. Artists will include Tony Hunt, Naquapenkim, and Bill Reid, Haida.
In the Arctic art section, visitors will see Cape Dorset prints by Eegyvudluk Pootoogook, Inuit, and Holman prints by Mary Okheena and Peter Aliknak.
One of the stylistic schools on exhibit is the Canadian Woodlands "Group of Seven," represented through works by Daphne Odjig, Odawa, Noval Morrisseau, Ojibwe, and Clemence Wescoupe, Ojibwa.
An Oklahoma section discusses the influential Bacone College art school and the Oklahoma "flat style" of visual art. Included are pieces by Acee Blue Eagle, Muscogee Creek-Pawnee-Wichita, Archie Black Owl, Cheyenne, Woody Crumbo, Potawatomi, and Dennis Belindo, Kiowa.
The Southwest Indian art area focuses on Sante Fe, N.M.-area developments, including the influential Institute for American Indian Art in Santa Fe, N.M. Artists include R.C. Gorman, Navajo, Pablita Velarde, Santa Clara Pueblo, Pop Chalee, Taos, Dan Namingha, Hopi, and Tammy Garcia, Santa Clara Pueblo.
The geographical tour concludes in the Plains region, with works by Merle Locke, Frank Shorty, Randall Blaze, Francis Yellow, and Robert Freeman.
Ron Sebastian, Gwichen Tsamish, Octopus Dancer print
The exhibit includes a new version of a guessing game that proved popular with museum visitors to the previous exhibit. "Is This Indian Art?" challenges visitors to set aside preconceived notions and guess which paintings and prints were made by American Indian artists and which were made by others who chose to depict Native people and themes.
The new exhibit, like its predecessor, illustrates how developments in traditional art and the tourist trade helped set the stage for today's vibrant Native art market.
Visitors enter the exhibit through a section titled "A Tradition of Adornment," which holds the earliest works on view: ancient artifacts created for personal, household, and ceremonial use. Early objects include copper jewelry from the period 8000-500 BCE, glass beadwork, porcupine quillwork, and Pueblo katsina dolls used to teach spiritual beliefs to children.
"American Indian Art Trade" illustrates the development of trading posts and early commercial markets for Indian art and souvenirs starting in the mid-1800s. Some of the items from this period "were considered crafts or souvenir trinkets and not valued as fine art pieces until decades later,"' according to exhibit materials. On display are Iroquois "whimsies," beaded items with intricate floral and pictorial designs, collectible katsina dolls, baskets, and Southwestern jewelry.
One of several interactive features throughout the exhibit is a set of objects allowing visitors to play the roles of Indian artists and "pawn traders," entrepreneurs who made cash loans to Indian artists, often at exorbitantly high interest rates, while holding their artwork as collateral.
Admission is free on the first Friday of every month.