Cul­tural Col­lab

An am­bi­tious se­ries of ex­hi­bi­tions, demon­stra­tions and more come to­gether in Project Indi­gene.

Native American Art - - IN THIS ISSUE - By Iris Mclis­ter

For centuries, the South­west­ern United States has been home to myriad Na­tive Amer­i­can cul­tures and tra­di­tions. It goes with­out say­ing that the dis­tinct tribes and Pue­b­los span­ning the re­gion each have their own artis­tic his­to­ries, pre­served across gen­er­a­tions. Santa Fe, New Mex­ico, has long been proud of its mul­ti­cul­tured in­hab­i­tants, and as one of the coun­try’s old­est cities, this nexus of In­dige­nous art tra­di­tions con­tin­ues to be an ever-evolv­ing home to uniquely cap­ti­vat­ing cre­ative prac­tices.

With around 83,000 in­hab­i­tants, Santa Fe is a rel­a­tively small city, but it boasts an im­pres­sive num­ber of arts-based in­sti­tu­tions. Many of the area’s mu­se­ums, and quite a few of its com­mer­cial gal­leries, are fo­cused on the re­gion’s orig­i­nal in­hab­i­tants, and Na­tive Amer­i­can art flour­ishes across the city. Be­gin­ning in spring 2018, eight of Santa

Fe’s cul­tural in­sti­tu­tions joined to­gether to or­ga­nize an am­bi­tious se­ries of art shows, demon­stra­tions, lec­tures and col­lab­o­ra­tive events. Col­lec­tively called Project Indi­gene, pro­gram­ming in­cludes IAIA Mu­seum of Con­tem­po­rary Na­tive Arts (MOCNA), the Mu­seum of In­dian Arts & Cul­ture (MIAC), the Mu­seum of In­ter­na­tional Folk Art, the Na­tive Trea­sures Art Mar­ket, the Ralph T. Coe Cen­ter for the Arts, the School for Ad­vanced Re­search (SAR), the South­west­ern As­so­ci­a­tion for In­dian Arts (SWAIA), and the Wheel­wright Mu­seum of the Amer­i­can In­dian. Project Indi­gene’s or­ga­niz­ers asked that in­cluded art­work re­spond in some way to four themes: au­then­tic­ity, ap­pro­pri­a­tion, ac­tivism and artis­tic iden­tity; it’s a seem­ingly straight­for­ward re­quest with far-reach­ing and com­plex cre­ative in­ter­pre­ta­tions. Of course, the four themes in­ves­ti­gated in Project Indi­gene

have been around for decades, if not much longer. Is­sues of ap­pro­pri­a­tion, for in­stance, are so wide­spread and in­grained in our ev­ery­day lives that we might not be im­me­di­ately aware of them. Artist Ash­ley Lynn Brown­ing (Po­joaque/santa Clara), who will be in this year’s Santa Fe In­dian Mar­ket, says, “The theft of one’s iden­tity isn’t some­thing to be brushed off. The mass me­dia does not spot­light this is­sue enough, but as a Na­tive artist, I have seen it hap­pen too fre­quently. I strive to use my art­work as a way to high­light the cul­ture, iden­tity and power that a Na­tive Amer­i­can holds.”

School for Ad­vanced Re­search, a cen­ter for the study of re­gional In­dige­nous cul­tures, turned 40 this year, and cel­e­brated with Trail­blaz­ers and Bound­ary Break­ers: Hon­or­ing Women in Na­tive Art, a spe­cial se­ries of par­tic­i­pant-based lec­tures and ex­hi­bi­tions. “Craft is art, and art is craft,” says fea­tured artist Teri Greeves (Kiowa). “I am a bead­worker, and in my com­mu­nity, that means some­thing. Al­most all Na­tive art is

women’s work and it’s con­sid­ered crafts by the larger art world. They don’t know what they’re look­ing at.”

MOCNA will con­trib­ute to the con­ver­sa­tion in With­out Bound­aries, which grew out of a se­ries of con­ver­sa­tions led by guest cu­ra­tor and artist Sonya Kel­li­her-combs (Iñu­piaq / at ha bas kan) at the An­chor­age Mu­seum, An­chor­age, Alaska. True to MOCNA’S con­sis­tently in­no­va­tive form, the artists in this show take both a play­ful and sober­ing look at op­pres­sion, ap­pro­pri­a­tion and nu­mer­ous other themes which con­tinue to af­fect Na­tive peo­ple to­day.

MIAC will show­case works from its per­ma­nent col­lec­tion, meant to be ex­am­ined within the con­text of Project Indi­gene’s four themes. Heavy hit­ter lo­cal artists like Ma­teo Romero of Co­chiti Pue­blo will join forces with David Bradley (Min­nesota Chippewa) and Can­nupa Han­ska Luger (Man­dan/hi­datsa/arikara/ Lakota) who, though he lives in New Mex­ico, was raised on the Stand­ing Rock Reser­va­tion of North Dakota. It can be chal­leng­ing to de­scribe Han­ska Luger’s work, which blends both so­ciopo­lit­i­cal commentary and col­lab­o­ra­tive, mixed me­dia. For his par­tic­i­pa­tion in the MIAC show, Han­ska Luger be­gan by think­ing about the woe­fully un­der­re­ported scores of miss­ing and mur­dered In­dige­nous women in Canada. “I was struck by the work of Cana­dian pho­tog­ra­pher Kaylie Spencer,” says Han­ska Luger, “and when I read that 4,000 women are miss­ing, I knew it couldn’t have ended with an even num­ber of ze­ros like that—you’re round­ing up or down to get to this num­ber, but each

one rep­re­sents a hu­man life.” What’s miss­ing? Han­ska Luger de­cided to hu­man­ize this stag­ger­ing statis­tic vis­i­ble by mak­ing beads which sym­bol­i­cally rep­re­sent the miss­ing. “The process was like a prayer,” the artist re­calls. “Across dif­fer­ent cul­tures, beads keep track, giv­ing your body some­thing to do when your mind is set­ting an in­ten­tion. And ul­ti­mately,” he says, “the process, or the ‘art’ be­came the verb, the ac­tion.”

Mu­seum of In­ter­na­tional Folk Art’s Craft­ing Mem­ory: The Art of Com­mu­nity in Peru is on view through early March 2019. Along­side in­tri­cately de­signed weav­ings and a large sec­tion of re­cy­cled, con­tem­po­rary crafts and art, the ex­hibit show­cases work by renowned Quechua artist Edil­berto Jiménez Quispe, whose plas­ter-and-potato starch crafted retab­los—tiny, sculpted scenes, placed in open-front boxes—con­vey both ev­ery­day glimpses of vil­lage life, but also, more trou­blingly, the wide­spread and dev­as­tat­ing ef­fects of po­lit­i­cal cor­rup­tion. The small scale of these of­ten heart-wrench­ing pieces makes them all the more poignant; the work clearly speaks to Project Indi­gene’s em­pha­sis on ac­tivism, as they re­count kid­nap­ping and even graphic mur­der in a way that’s both aes­thet­i­cally and emo­tion­ally af­fect­ing.

IMPRINT, on view at the Ralph T. Coe Cen­ter, will open in mid-au­gust, and will ex­am­ine Project Indi­gene’s four themes through the cre­ative tal­ents of six renowned Na­tive Amer­i­can print­mak­ers: El­iza Naranjo Morse (Santa Clara), Jami­son Chās Banks (Seneca-cayuga/chero­kee), Ja­son Gar­cia (Santa Clara/ Tewa), Ter­ran Last Gun (Pi­ikani), Dakota Mace (Diné) and Jacob Med­ers (Me­choopda/maidu). IMPRINT’S

cu­ra­tors, Bess Mur­phy and Nina San­ders (Ap­sáalooke), spent over a year gath­er­ing in­spi­ra­tion and ma­te­rial for the project. Maybe most in­trigu­ing? The ex­hi­bi­tion isn’t static—it will not only be on view at the Coe Cen­ter, but will also ex­pand into pub­lic spa­ces around Santa Fe—ap­pear­ing, for in­stance, on wheat-pasted posters af­fixed to city walls and tele­phone poles.

Na­tive Trea­sures Art Mar­ket, which runs twice an­nu­ally, in late spring and over the win­ter, high­lighted the work of No­cona Burgess (Co­manche) and Maria Samora (Taos) over the course of Memo­rial Day week­end. An aptly named show if there ever was one, Na­tive Trea­sures

of­fers a unique op­por­tu­nity to visit with dozens of some of the na­tion’s most beloved artists.

No dis­cus­sion is com­plete with­out men­tion­ing Santa Fe’s SWAIA, which works year-round to en­sure the con­tin­ued suc­cess of the world’s largest ex­po­si­tion of Na­tive Amer­i­can art, Santa Fe In­dian Mar­ket. In this mi­lieu, au­then­tic­ity—an­other of Project Indi­gene’s four themes—is of the ut­most im­por­tance, and though artists come from around the na­tion, all must be en­rolled in fed­er­ally rec­og­nized con­ti­nen­tal or Cana­dian tribes. Now en­ter­ing its 97th year, In­dian Mar­ket is a ju­ried show, which means each and ev­ery of the nearly 1,000 artists on view is care­fully vet­ted by a team of ex­perts.

Two dis­tinc­tive shows will be on view through early Oc­to­ber 2018 at the Wheel­wright Mu­seum of the Amer­i­can In­dian. Mem­ory Weav­ing: Works by Me­lanie Yazzie, a tribute to the mul­ti­fac­eted ca­reer of Navajo artist and ed­u­ca­tor Me­lanie Yazzie, will

“Au­then­tic­ity; Ap­pro­pri­a­tion; Ac­tivism; and Artis­tic In­tegrity. I be­lieve these words come from the same thought once the art has been cre­ated. The art gets as­so­ci­ated within these or spe­cific terms based on what type of art it is. These term as­so­ci­a­tions of­ten come from out­side sources. I think the im­por­tance of what the artist says or thinks should be the fo­cal point of these ex­am­i­na­tions and events.”

—No­cona Burgess, artist

in­clude sculp­ture and works on pa­per. A stun­ning pre­sen­ta­tion of jew­elry by Nor­man Pesh­lakai will act as a mini ret­ro­spec­tive, of­fer­ing a glimpse of dozens of jew­elry items by the mas­ter sil­ver­smith. Says cu­ra­tor Ken Wil­liams, “It took us around a year to or­ga­ni­za­tion this show.” Wil­liams, the man­ager of the Wheel­wright Mu­seum’s Case Trad­ing Post, ex­plains, “The ex­hibit con­tains work from both pri­vate and pub­lic col­lec­tors. In to­tal, we worked with over 30 lenders, and will be show­ing around 200 in­di­vid­ual pieces.”

In press ma­te­ri­als, we are urged to pay at­ten­tion to com­plex, some­times prob­lem­atic is­sues faced by le­gions of Na­tive Amer­i­can artists to­day. “These po­lar­iz­ing topics tie into larger is­sues of priv­i­lege and pol­i­tics that make it tempt­ing to throw one’s hands in the air and walk away in frus­tra­tion,” reads a state­ment from El Pala­cio Mag­a­zine, a pub­li­ca­tion of the New Mex­ico Depart­ment of Cul­tural Af­fairs. “How­ever, the stakes are high; the ques­tions are more than wor­thy of deeper con­sid­er­a­tion and re­flec­tion.”

Though it never shies away from chal­leng­ing dis­course, Project Indi­gene also en­cour­ages deep re­flec­tion and con­tem­pla­tion. It’s a hope­ful step in the in­creas­ingly cru­cial dis­cus­sion of rec­og­niz­ing and hon­or­ing our na­tion’s most phe­nom­e­nal—and orig­i­nal—artists.

2. Can­nupa Han­ska Luger. Pho­tog­ra­phy by Marco Pa­van, 2017.

1. Two pairs of beaded shoes by Teri Greeves.

3. Nora Naranjo Morse in her stu­dio. Photo by El­iza Naranjo Morse. 4. Ash­ley Lynn Brown­ing (Po­joaque/santa Clara),Pa­per Doll, 2013. 1st Place at SWAIA (Class III, Divi­sion F, Cat­e­gory 1602). 5. Su­san Hud­son with her Miss­ing and Mur­dered In­dige­nous Women Quilt.Photo by Caitlin Jenk­ins.

6. Ash­ley Lynn Brown­ing holds her Ndn-opoly board.

7. No­cona Burgess at Na­tiveTrea­sures Art Mar­ket in 2017. Photo by Carol Franco.

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