Art Without Reservation At Weisman Art Museum

Ruzan Haruriunyan's picture

This exhibition, the second in the Changing Hands series organized by the Museum of Arts & Design, New York, features approximately 150 works of art by more than 130 artists from areas west of the Mississippi including the Plains, Plateau, West Coast, Western Canada, Alaska, and Hawaii.

The exhibition will run from 26 October, 2007 to 13 January, 2008.

From the political performance artist James Luna to the self-taught ceramist Pahponee, Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation features a diverse array of contemporary Native American artists whose work at once acknowledges and pushes the long tradition of Native American visual art.

The curators of Changing Hands offer an alternative to the anthropological approach of many Native American art exhibi-tions that focus on tribal affiliation and emblematic styles. Changing Hands is instead organized in four conceptual catego-ries: The Human Condition, Material Evidence, Beyond Function, and Nature as Subject. These interpretive frameworks address the ideas, materials, and practices at play in the arena of contemporary Native art, and elucidate how these works fit not only in the context of Native culture, but also in the contemporary art world.

Works identified with "The Human Condition" explore provocative questions about personal and cultural identity in the twenty-first century, with reference to political and environmental concerns, belief systems, and the individual's place in the cultural context. The diverse artists featured in this section include James Luna, C. Maxx Stevens, David Bradley, Susie Silook, and others.

The work in the category "Material Evidence" acknowledges the centrality of the artist's engagement with materials and the role specific materials have played in the visual heritage of Native North Americans. The work in this section, featuring artists such as Rick Bartow, Preston Singletary, Sonya Kelliher-Combs, and Juanita Pahdopony, rejects hierarchical distinctions between art, design, and craft.

In the category "Beyond Function," references to everyday objects reveal cultural meaning and status above and beyond the practical. Artists working in this thematic area include Teri Greeves, Tom Haukaas, Lisa Telford, and Minnesota na-tives Todd Defoe and Todd Lonedog Bordeaux.

An engagement with flora and fauna, topography, and the progression of seasons is at play in many of the works in the category "Nature as Subject." Artists highlighted in this category include Pahponee, Glen Nipshank, Mary Longman, and Kevin Pourier.

The presentation of such accomplished and thought-provoking work by so many and so diverse a group of living Native North American artists begs the question: Is there a renaissance of creative work by this community or is this a long-over-due recognition of the cultural and artistic contributions made and still being made by the Native population of this conti-nent? As Changing Hands demonstrates, it is in reality, both. The Weisman Art Museum is pleased to offer this opportunity to view and engage with this work and this question.

Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 2 has been made possible through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts as part of the American Masterpieces Program and the Dobkin Family Foundation. Support for the catalogue has been provided by a major grant from Oldcastle Glass. Additional support has been provided by the Achelis Foundation, Alice and David Rubenstein, and American Express Company. The national tour is supported in part by Lowry Hill. The Weisman's presentation is sponsored by Target, with additional funding provided by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. --

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