New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs

Powerhouse Collaboration of Santa Fe Art Institutions to Explore Hot Button Topics in Indigenous Art

April 10, 2018


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Santa Fe, NM, (April 10, 2018)—The richness of indigenous cultures, their unique languages, distinct arts and crafts, and cultural traditions handed down since pre-history, remain vibrantly evident in Santa Fe. New Mexico’s capitol city is a veritable mecca, and perhaps one of the best places in the world to explore the past, present, and future of indigenous arts and culture.

In the spring of 2018, eight dynamic Santa Fe cultural institutions are joining forces in a collaboration called “Project Indigene” to examine perspectives and create awareness of some of the issues facing indigenous art: authenticity, appropriation, activism, and artistic identity. These complex issues sparking public discourse are addressed in works in the permanent collections of these institutions or works that will be investigated in upcoming exhibitions. It is critical to this collective to examine issues of copyright and intellectual property, to be mindful of the power dynamics in the telling of indigenous stories, and to engage critically with contemporary political and social issues that artists face. The project is supported by the Santa Fe Arts Commission.

The collaborative partners include: IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA), the Museum of Indian Arts and 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, Santa Fe Indian Market), and the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian. “The IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts is delighted to participate in a city-wide marketing and public relations initiative organized and implemented by the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs,” said Patsy Phillips (Cherokee Nation) Director of the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts. “The first collaboration with the Department of Cultural Affairs that we were a part of in 2017 was an enormous success for MoCNA.”

Phillips emphasized that the themes of Project Indigene—authenticity, appropriation, activism, and artistic identity—are issues that have concerned the indigenous arts and culture community for decades. She also underscored the fact that this collaborative project gives the participating museums and cultural institutions an opportunity to get to know one another and to work closely together in a supportive way. 

The following exhibitions or major events at partnering institutions will be explored through the issues outlined through the project with more detailed information forthcoming.

IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Art Without Boundaries is an exhibition that grew out of a series of curated conversations led by guest curator and artist Sonya Kelliher-Combs (Iñupiaq/Athabaskan) at the Anchorage Museum, Anchorage, Alaska. The exhibition features indigenous leaders in the arts and the work of contemporary artists whose work encourages social action. February 16-July 29, 2018.

Museum of Indian Arts and Culture The work of artists in MIAC’s permanent collection will be examined within the perimeters of the four themes, including: Mateo Romero (Cochiti Pueblo), a writer, curator, educator, and painter whose narrative scenes deliver social commentary on the contemporary Rio Grande Pueblo world; and David Bradley (Minnesota Chippewa) who merges pop-culture icons, appropriations from art history, and references to indigenous civilizations throughout the Americas in his work as a way to explore social and political justice from a Native perspective; and Cannupa Hanska Lugar (Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lakota, Austrian and Norwegian), a New Mexico-based, multi-disciplinary artist raised on the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, who uses social collaboration and in response to timely and site-specific issues, produces multi-pronged projects that take many forms.

Museum of International Folk Art Crafting Memory: The Art of Community in Peru is on exhibit December 3, 2017 – March 8, 2019. This is an important exhibition of contemporary folk art that expresses political, economic, and environmental ideas, and uses memory and heritage to forge the future.

Native Treasures Art Market This market, which has generated sales for Native American artists takes place every year over Memorial Day weekend, this year on May 25-27, 2018. Many Native Treasure’s artists address hot-button issues through messaging in their art, and others produce unique art that continues to evolve their artistic identities. The work of Nocona Burgess (Comanche), and the 2018 MIAC Living Treasure Maria Samora (Taos Pueblo) will be examined.

Ralph T. Coe Center for the Arts The exhibition IMPRINT opens August 14, 5-7pm and includes six leading Native printmakers, Eliza Naranjo Morse, Jamison Chās Banks (Seneca-Cayuga, Cherokee), Jason Garcia (Santa Clara Pueblo Tewa), Terran Last Gun (Piikani), Dakota Mace (Diné (Navajo)), and Jacob Meders (Mechoopda/Maidu), along with Coe curators Bess Murphy and Nina Sanders (Apsáalooke) who have spent the past year working collaboratively to build IMPRINT. The exhibition will not only appear on the Coe Center walls, but in public spaces as well. IMPRINT brings art to the public and the public to art in widely accessible ways through the use of repurposed newspaper boxes, wheat-pasted posters around town, and free print giveaways.

School of Advanced Research (SAR) In 2018, SAR/IARC will be celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Indian Arts Research Center (IARC), and will recognize the creativity of Native American artist fellows, their accomplishments, and the last forty years of innovative programming. IARC will present a series entitled: “Trailblazers and Boundary Breakers: Honoring Women in Native Art.” This will consist of a series of four events taking place on March 28, April 4, 11, and 18, which examine the indelible impact and often-untold stories of Native American women in art and will touch on the many issues addressed in Project Indigene. The series will culminate in a celebratory event on June 22, 2018 at the Poeh Cultural Center.

Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA, Santa Fe Indian Market) At Santa Fe Indian Market (August 18 and 19, 2018), authenticity is paramount. All participating artists must be enrolled members of a federally recognized U.S. tribe or Canadian First Nation. As a 100% juried show, in which artists must follow standards of quality, buyers are guaranteed only the best, hand-made work. In addition, individual artistic identity and expression are encouraged at Indian Market. Visitors will see both extremely traditional and highly contemporary works on display. Artists making political statements and social commentary are not controlled or censored by SWAIA. Themes of activism and appropriation are explored during Indian Market’s panel discussions on the plaza, which are co-sponsored by the Native American Rights Fund.

The Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian On exhibit from May 13, 2018 - October 7, 2018: Memory Weaving: Works by Melanie Yazzie will feature works on paper and sculptures by Navajo artist Melanie Yazzie, a prolific artist and educator. Peshlakai Vision will be on exhibit from May 13, 2018 – October 7, 2018. It will be the first solo museum exhibition to honor master Navajo silversmith Norbert Peshlakai (born 1953, Fort Defiance, Arizona; Towering House Clan), whose career spans over 40 years. Peshlakai Vision will feature over one hundred pieces, including jewelry, vessels, and small sculptural works in gold and silver, inlaid with precious materials and marked with Peshlakai’s signature stampwork. 

Artists who whose work will be featured in this project include: David Bradley (Minnesota Chippewa), Ashley Browning (Santa Clara Publeo), Frank Buffalo Hyde (Nez Perce/Onondaga), Nocona Burgess (Comanche), Aymar Ccopacatty (Aymara), Jason Garcia (Santa Clara), Shan Goshorn (Eastern Band Cherokee), Teri Greeves (Kiowa), Bob Haozous (Apache), Susan Hudson (Navajo), Cannupa Hanska Luger (Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lakota, Austrian and Norwegian), Nora Naranjo Morse, Qarla Quispe (Aymara), Mateo Romero (Cochiti Pueblo), Maria Samora (Taos Pueblo), Charlene Teters (Spokane), and Melanie Yazzie (Navajo).

Media Contact: Jennifer Villela 505-577-1347

About Project Indigene Project Indigene partners, consisting of museums, research institutes and art markets, will collectively offer a variety of exhibitions, events and program that support our examination of indigenous art issues: authenticity; appropriation; activism; and artistic Integrity. The collaborative partners include: IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA), the Museum of Indian Arts and 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), and the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA, Santa Fe Indian Market). This project is funded by a grant from the Santa Fe Arts Commission.

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