Art for a New Understanding: Native Voices, 1950s to Now
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
Featuring work by Isuma, Tanya Lukin Linklater, Sonya Kelliher-Combs and many more, this significant touring exhibition, curated by Mindy Besaw, Candice Hopkins and Manuela Well-Off-Man, launches this fall and explores new perspectives on contemporary American art through the work of Indigenous artists—including those from Canada and the North.
Here, Hopkins discusses the need to chart this parallel history and the artistic collaborations that define it:
This exhibition is an opportunity to not simply have another survey, but to look at the origin points of what we define as contemporary Native art today. We decided to go back to the 1950s and trace these different lineages as a chance to show, in a mainstream museum, that these are longstanding practices with their own distinct histories, and to focus on artists who have made a deep impact. One of those artists is the collective
Isuma. They are featured prominently, as are other ar tists from the North, particularly Alaska.
There are still many stereotypes in regards not only to Native people but also to what constitutes Native ar t. One of the things we did very consciously with this exhibition was to always challenge what those expectations might be. Something I am particularly excited by are the cross dialogues that we have been able to encourage between artists from the North. For instance, Tanya Lukin Linklater’s work is being made in direct relation to work by Sonya Kelliher-Combs. Tanya has always followed Sonya’s work, but has not had the chance to do anything in collaboration with her; this is really an homage.
What I hope the exhibition does is present the many lesser-known instances of collaboration where Indigenous ar tists were not only leading in terms of improvisation, but also experimenting with new materials. It’s time for this work to no longer exist in a parallel world.
Zacharias Kunuk(b. 1957 Iglulik/Montreal) —Atanarjuat:The Fast Runner (still) 2001 Film172 min