IAIA Museum Announces 2015 Art Exhibitions

Jan 6th, 2015 | By | Category: Online TC News, Tribal College News, Web Exclusive

The Institute of American Indian Arts’ Museum of Contemporary Native Arts is pleased to announce its upcoming exhibitions on display beginning January 24 through July 31, 2015. The season’s opening reception will take place Friday, January 23, from 5 to 7 p.m. The event is open and free to the public.

Dark Light is the first traveling exhibition of groundbreaking Navajo artist, Christine Nofchissey McHorse. A first-generation potter, McHorse is considered among the most innovative artists working today creating vessel-based art that is undecorated and abstract, with formal qualities indebted more to modern sculpture than to Southwestern culture. This survey exhibition includes works from 1997 to the present.

Star Wallowing Bull’s Mechanistic Renderings will feature recent paintings and drawings, and a selection of new works. The exhibition will reveal the artist’s evolving aesthetic, one that reflects a growing mechanical sensibility of both form and style. Wallowing Bull, who is Ojibwe-Arapaho, is recognized for his signature color pencil drawings on paper that investigate the intersection of Native American and contemporary pop culture. Stylistically abstract and semi-autobiographical, these intricately crafted compositions are defined by a dense network of line and form that animate the shallow picture plane. Recently, Wallowing Bull has been making acrylic on canvas paintings; certain of his pieces reflect the influence of pop artist James Rosenquist who became a mentor to Wallowing Bull in 2005.

Account Past Due, Ledger Art and Beyond is a mix of new and recent works, including drawings and paintings in Chris Pappan’s signature style of contemporary ledger art. The mid-1800s saw the unprecedented expansion of the American empire, and with it catastrophic changes for Indigenous people. Beginning in the 1860s, paper was introduced to the plains via ledger books and was quickly adapted for the visual recording of the tumultuous times of the people of the plains. Pappan continues the tradition by portraying a skewed vision of the past while commenting on the present with his series, 21st Century Ledger Drawing. While he draws and paints realistically, his figures are often deliberately distorted as a metaphor for the ways in which perceptions of Native peoples have been distorted in mainstream media and popular culture. With figures and portraits based both in mythology and historic fact, Pappan’s works speak to the problematic idea of an open territory ready for conquest. The artist juxtaposes this with portraits of the Native people who continue to persevere, thrive, and endure in these territories.

Dr. Lara Evans of the Cherokee Nation curates the exhibition, War Department: Selections from MoCNA’s Permanent Collection, which will be on display in the museum’s North Gallery. All of the works in this exhibition have something to do with war, but depict very little gore or physical violence. The armed conflicts referenced in these artworks span 500 years, from the Spanish/Pueblo conquest, to World War II, Vietnam, Wounded Knee, the Mohawk/Oka Crisis, and present-day conflicts. This selection of works from the permanent collection examines the nuanced depictions of war and civil unrest in contemporary Native art. We tend to think of war as a separate category, a separate “department.” Most of the works break the artificial separations between war and non-war. Soldiers are embedded in daily life, with family and friends, ceremony, policies and politics. These art works show us ways in which wars spill outside warzone boundaries, decades and even centuries later. The lasting impacts of war and civil unrest are not decided by government officials in offices, but by the stories we tell and how we tell them—long after the War Department is disbanded.

In Heavy Volume, Small Spaces, Mihio Manus documents the music scenes on the reservation and the border towns of the Navajo Nation. Hardcore, punk, heavy metal, black metal, noise, and other forms of experimental music are his subject. Many of the bands aren’t signed to major labels, but they have galvanized a dedicated community of musicians, venues, and audiences scattered in small pockets across the Southwest. This exhibition of Manus’s photographs, taken over the course of a decade, is testament to his dedication to these music scenes. “One of my initial inspirations to learn photography was so that I could go to the punk shows and take pictures of the bands and people there. I found those types of events fascinating and loved punk and hardcore music. This guided me in college to study photography and journalism. I’ve heard many artists liken the tools of their craft to extensions of their bodies and minds. In many ways, I believe this to be true. Photography has become a part of my life ever since I learned to use a camera and load film.”

Along with photographs, included in the exhibition are listening stations featuring an album by Navajo Nation-based electronic music duo, The Discotays; a solo release by Gallup-based experimental musician Ryan Dennison; and a cassette by Albuquerque/Los Angeles/Bushwick-based veteran noise trio KILT (Raven Chacon, Bob Bellerue, and Sandor Finta).

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