Interrogating Native American Art: Past and Present

Kasey Kendall, an ND student who participated in Prof. Joanne Mack's 2011 class that curated an exhibition. She stands next to the display of Native American objects that she selected, researched and described in exhibition text panels and labels.

Kasey Kendall, an ND student who participated in Prof. Joanne Mack's 2011 class that curated an exhibition. She stands next to the display of Native American objects that she selected, researched and described in exhibition text panels and labels.

SNITE Museum of Art December 19, 2010–February 13, 2011

Serving as guest curators, university students enrolled in the Native North American Art History course taught by Dr. Joanne Mack, curator of Native American Art and associate professor of anthropology, chose pieces from the permanent collection to show the diversity of this art. Because an important issue in Native American art history is how accurately their art is exhibited, this show provided the opportunity to grapple with exhibiting it appropriately. 

 Each individual or student pair focused on themes including the effect that the commercial market might have on Native American art, the continuity of artists’ uses of certain techniques, materials and designs, as well as the necessary caution in interpreting the meaning of particular motifs of other cultures, and the diversity of contemporary Native American art. 
 Students worked with Snite Museum staff in designing and installing their exhibits; they also wrote the labels and explanations for them. Both were important aspects of the show and the class, since the issue of how a museum presents the art of other cultures is of utmost concern to curators, anthropologists, artists, and organizations. This show provides the opportunity to view objects seldom displayed and to better understand issues within Native American art history.