Second in landmark series of exhibitions explores new work by 150 innovative native North American artists within the context of contemporary art and culture
May 07, 2007
Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 2 - Contemporary Native North American Art from the West, Northwest & Pacific
On view May 17 through Sept. 16
Opening reception Friday, May 18 at 5:30 p.m.
In 2002 the Museum of Arts and Design launched the internationally acclaimed Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation - Contemporary Native American Art from the Southwest, the first of three major exhibitions that place contemporary art by Native North American artists within the context of international art and culture. The series documents the renaissance that has taken place in recent decades among Native artists working in both traditional and non-traditional materials such as wood, clay, glass, metal, fiber and mixed media.
The second exhibition in the series, Changing Hands: Art without Reservation 2 - Contemporary Native North American Art from the West, Northwest & Pacific, focuses on approximately 150 works by as many Native artists from the regions of the Plains, Prairie, Plateau and Pacific in both the United States and Canada, as well as artists from Alaska and Hawaii. It is on view at the Anchorage Museum May 17 through Sept. 16.
The selected artists both acknowledge and contemplate the more classic indigenous art forms as they challenge stereotyped notions of what previously defined Native American art and how it is perceived. These artists examine and confront their past with both critical and creative eyes, and explore the interplay of their history with what is current, not only from the Native perspective, but also on a more universal level.
The exhibition emphasizes three-dimensional objects, exploring how these artists often work in more unexpected or non-traditional mediums including installation and performance arts. Changing Hands presents contemporary Native American art that transcends ethnographic and anthropological interpretations established by the dominant culture.
"The works chosen for this exhibition exemplify the artists' engagement with materials and process, says David Revere McFadden, co-curator of Changing Hands and chief curator at the Museum of Arts & Design. "Through their creativity, these artists give mute materials a fresh new voice and further erode the artificial hierarchies that have separated art, craft and design. The artists confront issues in their work that are at once global and personal. They examine geography, environment, time, identity and authenticity on many levels. We intend that this exhibition will encourage the appreciation and recognition of a far more diverse and contemporary Native culture than is generally acknowledged, and that Native American art today will be acknowledged as a vibrant current in the mainstream of art."
This exhibition raises important and provocative questions about cultural identity in a changing world, about the interface of tradition and innovation that informs contemporary Native American art today, and about the juxtaposition of reservation life with contemporary urban life. Environmental and political issues are also at the forefront of many artists' work: these examine and comment upon the essential but fragile relationships between the natural environment and human intervention.
The dual roles assumed by many of the artists as representatives of firmly embedded cultures specific to regions and tribal groups and as unique creative individuals in a global society propose multiple definitions of art and identity that are revealed in the choice of materials ranging from gold and precious stones to found objects and discards.
Curators and Advisors
Co-curators of the exhibition are Ellen Napiura Taubman, former head of the Department of Native American Art at Sotheby's, and David Revere McFadden, chief curator of the Museum of Arts & Design. During the past five years, they have sought out an exceptionally diverse group of Native North American artists, most of whose work has been unknown or under-recognized by the larger and more widespread fine-arts community. A distinguished advisory committee assisted the foundation research for the exhibition. The committee includes curators, collectors, art historians and critics from North America: Bruce Bernstein of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian; noted authors and scholars Lois Dubin and Allan J. Ryan; and collectors such as Alice Rogoff Rubenstein, founder of the Alaska Native Arts Foundation, Eric and Barbara Dobkin, and Harry and Marlys Stern.
Changing Hands: Art without Reservation 2 - Contemporary Native North American Art from the West, Northwest & Pacific is organized and circulated by the Museum of Arts & Design, New York. Sponsors include ConocoPhillips, TOTE, Wells Fargo, Anchorage Daily News, KTUU Channel 2, KNBA 90.3 FM and Spenard Builders Supply.