Nov 292023
 

Kimowan Metchewais, “Cold Lake Fishing”, 2004/06

Koyoltzintli, “Gathering Roots” and “Spider Woman Embrace”, Abiquiú, New Mexico, 2019, from the series MEDA, 2018/19, Archival pigment print

Alan Michelson “Hanödagayas (Town Destroyer): Whirlwind Series”, 2022 Archival pigment prints and “Pehin Hanska ktepi (They Killed Long Hair)”, 2021 Single-channel video installation: wool blanket and video projection; 1:05 minutes (looped), no sound

Currently at the USF Contemporary Art Museum is Native America: In Translation curated by Wendy Red Star and organized by Aperture. The work included offers viewers a chance to discover new perspectives on the Native American experience.

From the museum-

“The ultimate form of decolonization is through how Native languages form a view of the world. These artists provide sharp perceptions, rooted in their cultures.” —Wendy Red Star

Native America: In Translation assembles the wide-ranging work of nine Indigenous artists who pose challenging questions about identity and heritage, land rights, and histories of colonialism. Probing the legacies of settler colonialism, and photography’s complex and often fraught role in constructing representation of Native cultures, the exhibition includes works by lens-based artists offering new perspectives on Indigenous identity, reimagining what it means to be a citizen in North America today.

Works included in the exhibition address cultural and visual sovereignty by reclaiming Native American identity and representation. Honoring ancestral traditions and stories tied to the land, Koyoltzintli (Ecuadorian-American, b. 1983) reflects on how the landscape embodies traditional knowledge, language, and memories. Nalikutaar Jacqueline Cleveland’s (Yup’ik, b. 1979) photographs of contemporary tribal communities in western Alaska document Native foraging and cultural traditions as a form of knowledge passed through generations. Revealing stories of trauma and healing, Guadalupe Maravilla (American, b. El Salvador, 1976) communicates autobiographical and fictional narratives informed by myth and his own migration story.

Expanding Indigenous archives and collective memory through photographic means, works by the late artist Kimowan Metchewais (Cree, Cold Lake First Nations, 1963–2011), drawn from his personal archive of Polaroid photographs, construct self-realized Native imagery challenging the authority of colonial representation. Excavating repressed colonial histories of invasion and eviction, Alan Michelson (Mohawk, Six Nations of the Grand River, b. 1953) reinterprets and repositions archival material to redress history from an Indigenous perspective. Marianne Nicolson’s (Musgamakw Dzawada’enuxw First Nations, b. 1969) light-based installation projects Dzawada’enuxw tribal symbols of authority and power onto colonized spaces to contest treaties that imposed territorial boundaries on Indigenous lands. Duane Linklater (Omaskêko Ininiwak from Moose Cree First Nation, b. 1976) reconfigured the pages sourced from a 1995 issue of Aperture, featuring Indigenous artists, creating space for artistic improvisation and reinvention across generations.

Reflecting on performative aspects of Indigeneity and the colonial gaze, Martine Gutierrez’s (American, b. 1989) series of photographs reinterpret high-fashion magazine spreads with a revolving roster of identities and narratives to question Native gender and heritage. Working across performance and photography, Rebecca Belmore (Anishinaabe, Lac Seul First Nation, b. 1960) creates powerful reenactments of past performances incorporating organic materials that reference knowledge, labor, and care of the Earth in defiance of state violence of Indigenous people.

This exhibition closes 12/1/23.

Rebecca Belmore, “matriarch”, 2018, and “mother” from the series “nindinawemaganidog (all of my relations)”, 2018, Archival pigment prints

Photos by Rebecca Belmore and Installation by Marianne Nicolson

Marianne Nicolson’s installation detail

Marianne Nicolson’s installation detail

Nalikutaar Jacqueline Cleveland, “Molly Alexie and her children after a harvest of beach greens in Quinhagak, Alaska”, 2018 and “There are two main Yup’ ik names for crowberries or blackberries in Alaska, “paunrat” and “tangerpiit””, 2017, Archival pigment prints

Guadalupe Maravilla, “I Crossed the Border Retablo”, 2021, Oil on tin, cotton, glue mixture, wood

Guadalupe Maravilla, “I Crossed the Border Retablo”, 2021, detail

Duane Linklater, “ghost in the machine”, 2021, Archival pigment prints

Duane Linklater, “ghost in the machine”, 2021, Archival pigment prints

Martine Gutierrez, “Queer Rage, Dear Diary, No Signal During VH1’s Fiercest Divas”, and “Queer Rage, THat Girl Was Me, Now She’s A Somebody”, 2018. digital chromogenic print

One of Kimowan Metchewais’ polaroids from the slide show

 

 

Aug 252023
 

“Bryson Funmaker”, 2020, Inkjet print and beadwork

The Museum of Fine Arts St. Petersburg is currently showing an impressive collection of work from photographer Tom Jones. The photos, in multiple series, focus on Native American identity, history, cultural appropriation, and the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin, of which Jones is a member. The work engages visually while also being informative.

From the museum’s press release for Tom Jones: Here We Stand

For over twenty years, Tom Jones has created a visual record and exploration of his Ho-Chunk community. Born in North Carolina and raised in Orlando after a short stint in Minneapolis, Jones returned to the Midwest, moving to Wisconsin at age 15. He then made his way to Chicago for graduate school at Columbia College. Jones’s father worked with Kodak and owned a photography lab, helping shape the artist’s understanding of the practical aspects of photography from an early age. During graduate school, Jones began an ongoing photographic essay on the contemporary life of his Ho-Chunk community, beginning first with the elders.

The show comprises over a dozen series, ranging from the documentary to the conceptual. Of his series on Veterans’ memorials at the annual Black River Falls Pow-Wow, Jones says, “I was interested in the way families made very conscious decisions about how they want their loved ones memorialized.” Other series include the emotionally intimate, though larger than life, beaded portraits. “Beading is a metaphor for our ancestors watching over us. I am also referencing an experience I had when I was about 8 or 9 years old. My mother took me to see a Sioux medicine man named Robert Stead. He led the call to the spirits, the women began to sing, and the ancestors appeared as orbs of light. This event inspired the series Strong Unrelenting Spirits.

Jones’s photographs examine identity and geographic place with an emphasis on the experience of Native American communities. He is interested in how American Indian material culture is portrayed through commodification and popular culture. Much of his work counteracts and corrects decades of misinformation and misrepresentation of American Indians, particularly targeting the field of U.S. history. Jones’s critical assessment of the romanticized representation of Native peoples in photography re-examines historic pictures taken by white photographers. This reassessment questions the assumptions about identity within the American Indian culture by non-natives and natives alike. “While each of Jones’s series is distinctly different, the message remains consistent: the Ho-Chunk are not vanishing or frozen in time,” said Dr. Jane Aspinwall, Senior Curator of Photography. “Jones’s photographs emphasize a solid, generational commitment to family, tribal community, and land. His photographs reclaim appropriated images and set the historical record straight.”

Below are a some selections from a few of the series in the exhibition.

“Trenton and Roger Littlegeorge”, 2011

“Dorothy Crowfeather”, 1999

“Dear America” series

About the Dear America series pictured above-

Using each line from the first two verses of the song, America (“My Country Tis of Thee”) as the title of fourteen of the works in the Dear America series, Jones questions whose history is being propagated here. With dry wit and an unfailing commitment to truth, Jones exposes atrocities like the massive effort by the U.S. government to assimilate Native American children to non-Native culture, the merciless seizing of Native lands, and the mass hanging of thirty-eight Sioux and Ho-Chunk men under President Lincoln in 1862. He also highlights Native American identity in relation to cowboy culture, the thoughtless misappropriation of Native American customs, and the influence of the Iroquois Confederacy on the U. S. Constitution. Jones’s aim is to broaden the “traditional” historical American narrative to be more representative of all people, especially the original inhabitants of this land.

About the Ho-Chunk Veterans Memorials, pictured above-

“I wanted to do this photographic essay to honor our veterans… One in four American Indian males is a United States veteran. Ho-Chunks have fought in every war for the United States except for the War of 1812. The Ho-Chunks did this even though they were not granted the right to vote until 1924, and during the Indian Removal Act, were removed at least seven times from Wisconsin by the United States government. This is the conviction we have as a people… I honor these people who give of themselves freely to protect this land. Traditionally, Ho-Chunks are taught to live their lives for the betterment of others. The veterans have done this.’
-Tom Jones

From Jones’ “”Native” Commodity” series

About the “Native” Commodity” series-

The Wisconsin Dells, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the state, is home to spectacular natural scenery and the largest concentration of waterparks. Located on Ho-Chunk ancestral land, the area is now highly commercialized, with much of its identity resting on the appropriation of Native American stereotypical tropes. In this series, Jones documented this unabashed use of Native American symbols, images, and place names in advertising and popular culture. The sale of “Native American” crafts made in China, the liberal use of names of historically important figures like Black Hawk, and the indiscriminate mix of tribal communities into one conglomerate-tipis from the Plains next to totem poles from the Pacific Northwest next to Pueblo pottery. The Dells serve as a microcosm for how images of Native Americans are reproduced and reframed into a collective memory that is often distorted. Jones wryly noted that none of the Native American objects feature anything specifically attributable to the Ho-Chunk Nation.

This exhibition has been extended until 9/10/23.

Nov 292022
 

Taos Buffalo,1991, by John Nieto can currently be seen at The James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art, in St. Petersburg, Florida.

From the museum’s information plaque-

With vivid fields of color and strong lines, Nieto paints familiar imagery and expresses it the way he sees it. He spent most of his life in New Mexico, inspired by the light, land, and rich history of the region.

“The colors I work with are a reflection of the way I feel. Sometimes I literally see these colors up in the sky, and it is unbelievable for people who don’t live in this area (near Santa Fe). When I am painting, I feel a certain way, and I feel it in terms of a certain color. So I put it down, then that suggests another color.” -John Nieto