Museum of Indian Arts and Culture

MIAC and SAR Announce Virtual Program to Explore Ongoing National Dialogues Concerning Historical Markers, Monuments, and Memory Making

November 16, 2020


Located on the ancestral lands of Pueblo, Navajo, and Apache peoples, the School for Advanced Research (SAR) and Museum of Indian Arts & Culture (MIAC) have joined forces to present “Messages + Monuments: Perspectives on Collective Memories,” a virtual program aimed at addressing the ongoing removal of historical markers and monuments, and what these removals – or attempts to remove – mean within the context of collective memories. This free online event will take place at 10:30 a.m. MSon December 10.

In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement and rising national calls for a critical examination of governmental power structures, monuments celebrating and memorializing Spanish conquistadors are beginning to be removed across New Mexico. While some celebrate their removal, seeing their presence as a glorification of colonialism, others argue that this constitutes an erasure of cultural identity.

Messages + Monuments explores these events and their context in relation to not only local identity making, but also their meaning within national and international conversations. Through a panel discussion, this virtual program explores the historical context of monumental sculpture and what they represent, our current tumultuous cultural environment, and what all of this could mean for the future. Hosted online, the format will encourage community participation and discussion through a facilitated Q&A with the panel.

“We are honored to partner with the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture on this program and feel that this important gathering is crucial to further understanding and healing as we consider the transnational implications of this topic," notes Elysia Poon, director of SAR’s Indian Arts Research Center. “We hope that by focusing the discussion on the Indigenous histories, people, and land that shape our work, that we can provide new perspectives and potential ways forward.”

MIAC Director Della Warrior adds: “The Museum of Indian Arts & Culture is pleased to join the School of Advanced Research in offering this opportunity for dialogue on one of the country’s most critical concerns. It is our intent to foster greater respect, understanding, and appreciation of all cultural heritages by hosting this panel of leaders in social justice and racial equity.”    

Event Details:

Messages + Monuments: Perspectives on Collective Memories
Date: Thursday, December 10, 2020
Time: 10:30 - 11:30 a.m. (MST)
FREE PROGRAM (with suggested donation)

Moderator: Dario Colmenares Millán, Program Director for the Global Transitional Justice Initiative, the International Coalition of Site of Conscience’s flagship program on transitional justice. Colmenares Millán has played a central role in the Centre for Memory, Peace, and Reconciliation in Bogotá, Colombia, since its creation in 2008, where he coordinated participatory truth-telling programs in arts and culture with ethnic and rural communities for nearly a decade. He previously contributed to the RESLAC Latin American network of the Coalition and led GIJTR’s program “Supporting Truth, Justice and Reconciliation in Colombia.”

Panelist: Kirsten Pai Buick is a professor of Art History and Associate Dean of Equity and Excellence for the College of Fine Arts at the University of New Mexico. She received her Ph.D. in art history from the University of Michigan. She has been the recipient of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Predoctoral Fellowship and a Charles Gaius Bolin Fellowship at Williams College. In 2015, Buick was awarded the David C. Driskell Prize for African American Art. Her research and publishing focus on the visual and material culture of the first British Empire, art of the U.S., sculpture, landscape representation, African American art, and women as patrons and collectors. In 2010, her book Child of the Fire: Mary Edmonia Lewis and the Problem of Art History’s Black and Indian Subject was published by Duke University Press. Her second book, In Authenticity: “Kara Walker” and the Eidetics of Racism, is in progress.

Panelist: Jason Garcia (Okuu Pin) SAR’s 2006 Ronald and Susan Dubin Native artist fellow, carefully examines and interprets life around him through his work  often clay tiles created in the traditional Pueblo way with hand-gathered clay, native clay slips, and outdoor firings. His materials, closely connected to the earth, present a visually rich mix of Pueblo history and culture merged with comic book super heroes, video game characters, religious icons, and all things pop culture. Many established cultural institutions and museums have purchased his work, including the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona, and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC.

Panelist: Jean M. O’Brien (citizen, White Earth Ojibwe Nation) is a Distinguished McKnight University Professor and Northrop Professor at the University of Minnesota. She is one of six co-founders and is past president of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association and inaugural co-editor (with Robert Warrior) of the association’s journal, Native American and Indigenous Studies. In addition to numerous articles and book chapters, O’Brien is the author or co-author of (with Lisa BleeMonumental Mobility: The Memory Work of MassasoitFirsting and Lasting: Writing Indians Out of Existence in New England; and Dispossession by Degrees: Indian Land and Identity in Natick, Massachusetts, 1650-1790. Her co-edited volumes are Sources and Methods in Indigenous StudiesWhy You Can’t Teach U.S. History without American Indians; and Recognition, Sovereignty Struggles, and Indigenous Rights in the United States: A Sourcebook. 


About the School for Advanced Research
Founded in 1907, the School for Advanced Research (SAR) is one of North America’s preeminent independent institutes for the study of anthropology, related social sciences, and humanities. SAR is home to the Indian Arts Research Center, one of the nation’s most important Southwest Native American art research collections. Through prestigious scholar residency and artist fellowship programs, public programs, and SAR Press, SAR advances intellectual inquiry in order to better understand humankind in an increasingly global and interconnected world. Additional information on the work of our resident scholars and Native American artists is available on the SAR website,; on Facebook,; on Twitter, @schadvresearch; and on Instagram @schoolforadvancedresearch.

About the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture
The Museum of Indian Arts & Culture is a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, under the leadership of the Board of Regents for the Museum of New Mexico. Programs and exhibits are generously supported by the Museum of New Mexico Foundation and our donors. The mission of the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture/Laboratory of Anthropology is to serve as a center of stewardship, knowledge, and understanding of the artistic, cultural, and intellectual achievements of the diverse peoples of the Native Southwest. 



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