Revisions:Contemporary Native Art

Author: Gina Costa

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This exhibition features over twenty regionally and nationally celebrated artists. The exhibition highlights strategies of revision, reuse, and appropriation in Native art from the 1990s to today in media ranging from painting to sculpture to video. On view through May 18, 2019, the exhibition gathers national loans and works from the museum’s collection, and includes a major installation by artist Wendy Red Star (Apsáalooke/Crow).


The University of Notre Dame was founded on the homeland of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi,” said Frances Jacobus-Parker, visiting curator at the Snite Museum and the exhibition’s organizer. “Given that history and continued relationship, it is especially exciting that we can showcase the vibrancy of contemporary Native art here. Our hope is that the exhibition and related programming can be a platform for continued discussion and exchange.”


The participating artists—who hail from diverse tribes in the United States and Canada—share an interest in the circulation and reconfiguration of forms over time, across space, and between cultures. Some reflect on the appropriation of Native culture by settler society while others repurpose found objects, images, and texts from tribal history, family archives, and popular media. The resulting artworks address issues of inheritance, colonization, authenticity, and the politics of representation.


“The exhibition features some of the most compelling artists working today,” said Jacobus-Parker. “Whether using skinning boards, archival photographs, wool blankets, or traditional patterns, these artists address history while looking forward, creating objects that reimagine what Native art—and contemporary art—can be.” 


Artists represented in the Snite Museum’s permanent collection include Rick Bartow (Mad River Band Wiyot), Edgar Heap of Birds (Cheyenne and Arapaho), Jaune Quick-to-See Smith (Salish and Kootenai), Kay Walkingstick (Cherokee), and Melanie Yazzie (Diné/Navajo).


Artist Jeffrey Gibson (Mississippi Choctaw and Cherokee) transforms pow wow regalia materials into striking, sculptural compositions. Elisa Harkins (Cherokee and Muscogee (Creek)) investigates her relation to Native identity via performance and video. Writer and artist Paul Seesequasis (Willow Cree) employs social media to share archival photographs and crowdsource Indigenous history.


Revisions Contmporary Native Art