CU­RA­TOR CHAT

Native American Art - - IN THIS ISSUE - Laura F. Fry

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.

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