What exhibitions are you currently working on?
Coming up in spring 2018 at Gilcrease Museum, we are updating and reinstalling Enduring Spirit: Native American Art. This installation will highlight several new acquisitions, and will combine contemporary and historic Native American artworks from our permanent collection.
I’m also organizing Seasons of the Desert: Landscapes of the American Southwest, an exhibition of modern and contemporary Southwest paintings from the Gil Waldman and Christy Vezolles collection. On view from March 16 to June 10, this show features a variety of artists from Maynard Dixon to Tony Abeyta, and reveals the vibrancy in the shifting seasons of the desert landscape.
Name an interesting museum exhibit, gallery opening or work of art you’ve seen recently.
One of the most spectacular artworks I’ve seen this year is Resisting the Mission; Filling the Silence by artist Shan Goshorn. This set of seven pairs of column baskets features “before and after” photographs of Native children coerced or forced to attend boarding school—showing the U.S. government’s push to eradicate Native cultures in the early 20th century. The Gilcrease Museum is thrilled to have this piece on loan from the artist through May 2018—the impact of the full set is stunning! Shan hopes that Resisting the Mission; Filling the Silence will offer viewers an opportunity to overcome the silence long suffered around the history of Native American boarding schools.
Gilcrease Museum Tulsa, OK (918) 596-2700 www.gilcrease.org
What event (gallery show, museum exhibition, etc.) in the next few months are you looking forward to, and why?
I can’t wait to see T.C. Cannon: At the Edge of America, organized by the Peabody Essex Museum. This exhibition explores T.C. Cannon as a leader of activism and cultural transition in the 1960s and 70s, and will include his artwork, poetry and music. After the inaugural showing at the Peabody Essex Museum, this exhibition travels to Gilcrease Museum from July 14 to October 7.
This fall, I am also looking forward to seeing Preston Singletary’s latest glass sculptures in the exhibition Preston Singletary: Raven and the Box of Daylight, opening in October 2018 at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington.
What type of Native art are you currently seeing an interest in right now, historic or contemporary?
In the museum world, it has been wonderful to see an expanding interest in contemporary Native art, from Rick Bartow to Kay WalkingStick to Preston Singletary. Especially for institutions with extensive historic Native American collections like Gilcrease Museum, incorporating contemporary works allows us to tell a broader, more complete story of Native American art and culture. We can challenge outdated, narrow definitions of “traditional” art, and show that Native cultures—like all peoples—continue to evolve and change in the modern world.
What is the most recent object of art your museum has added to its collection?
Two of our most exciting recent acquisitions for the Gilcrease collection include an oil painting by Rick Bartow, Jane Avril (Spindly Legs Flying in All Directions), donated by Tom and Judy King, and two beautiful contemporary vases by Hopi-Tewa artist Debbie Clashin, donated by Loren Lipson.
What is your dream exhibition to curate? Or see someone else curate?
I’d love to curate an exhibition exploring cross-cultural connections in the ceramic arts. The Gilcrease collection includes beautiful examples of Mississippian pottery, dating from approximately 900 to 1500 CE. It’s an under-explored area of Native American art and it could be fascinating to see these historic works paired with work by contemporary Native artists.
Give us a few of your favorite Native artists.
While it’s impossible to name a favorite Native artist, it has been an honor to meet many of the talented artists living here in Tulsa. In particular, I’ve been impressed with the work of Tony Tiger and Bobby C. Martin, who are artists, instructors and curators. Bobby and Tony were co-curators of the recent exhibition Return from Exile: Contemporary Southeastern Indian Art. The exhibition has traveled widely across the Southeastern United States and through Oklahoma. It’s been inspiring to see how their efforts have provided opportunities for artists and shaped perceptions of Southeastern Indian art.