Published: November 14, 2017
INDIANAPOLIS, IND. – A new traveling exhibition of some of the best contemporary Native American artworks of the past 25 years, “Native Art Now!” recently opened at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art. The field of contemporary Native art took center stage in Indianapolis as the exhibit opening coincided with a convening of leading Native artists, scholars and others for roundtable discussions, accompanied by a Native Art Now! television documentary and book.
As both a retrospective celebration and a summit meeting for influencers in contemporary art, “Native Art Now!” aim to promote appreciation for today’s Native art and artists and generate dialogue about the current state of the field and its future challenges.
The exhibition, which remains on view until January 28, when it travels to other cities, features 39 iconic works of Native art that the museum acquired primarily through its Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship, including installations, paintings, prints, sculptures and glass and fabric art. Visually compelling works from artists Truman Lowe, Allan Houser, Kay WalkingStick, Nicholas Galanin and Meryl McMaster, among others, are on view in the special exhibition gallery.
In conjunction with the exhibition there were two days of facilitated discussions on November 11-12 hosted by the museum that examined the importance of Native art in the contemporary art world and the obstacles such artists face today. The convening of Fellowship artists and scholars from across the United States and Canada was moderated by nationally known art and social justice expert Elizabeth “Betsy” Theobald Richards (Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma).
Every other year since 1999, the Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship has selected a group of five contemporary Native artists and provided them grant support so they can continue to pursue their art professionally and receive greater exposure. Through the support of the Lilly Endowment Inc, the Eiteljorg Museum has purchased approximately 400 works of contemporary art since 1999 to add to its permanent collections. Of the 50 past Fellowship artists, 45 still are living and many were scheduled to attend the “Native Art Now!” events Veterans Day weekend.
Developed by a team led by Jennifer Complo McNutt, the Eiteljorg’s curator of contemporary art, the traveling exhibition is the culmination of the museum’s more than two decades of efforts to raise awareness of and build appreciation for artworks of Native American artists of the late Twentieth and early Twenty-First Centuries.
A one-hour TV documentary that presents a more personal perspective of developments in contemporary Native art during the past 30 years is in production and will be broadcast later this year. It features interviews with artists, writers, administrators and collectors.
The Eiteljorg also has produced a scholarly companion book for “Native Art Now!” that examines in depth the broad continuum of Native expression in contemporary art. The book is available at the Frank and Katrina Basile Museum Store.
Additionally, two other ongoing exhibitions of contemporary Native art are on view elsewhere in the Eiteljorg. Located in the Hurt and Harvey galleries, “In Their Honor” pays homage to five influential Native contemporary artists, now deceased, who were awarded Eiteljorg Fellowships. Nearby in the Myrta Pulliam Photography Gallery are prints by renowned women artists, “The Geometry of Expression.”
The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art is at 500 West Washington Street. For information, 317-636-9378 or www.eiteljorg.com.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm