Enlightening Exhibition of Nation’s Best Contemporary Native Art Opens Nov. 11 – 12

Meryl McMaster (Plains Cree/Blackfoot)
Anima (In-Between Worlds series) detail, 2012
Digital chromogenic print, 36 x 36 inches
Museum Purchase: Eiteljorg Fellowship

Published September 28, 2917


Native Art Now! project includes two-day convening of artists, TV documentary, book

INDIANAPOLIS – A new traveling exhibition of some of the best contemporary Native American artworks of the past 25 years, Native Art Now!, opens Nov. 11-12 at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art. The field of contemporary Native art takes center stage in Indianapolis as the exhibit opening coincides 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! will 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 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, Meryl McMaster and Nicholas Galanin among others will be on view in the special exhibition gallery that opens to visitors Saturday, Nov. 11.

Jim Denomie (Ojibwe, born 1955)
Blue Eyed Chief, 2008
Oil on canvas
Museum Purchase: Eiteljorg Fellowship

In conjunction with the exhibition are two days of facilitated discussions Nov. 11-12 hosted by the museum that examine 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 U.S. and Canada will be moderated by a nationally known art and social justice expert, Elizabeth T. 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., theEiteljorg 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 are scheduled to attend the Native Art Now! events Veterans Day weekend.

“We in Indianapolis are proud to be stewards of one of the most important collections of contemporary Native art in the nation and to support the artists who created it. These works challenge conventional notions that Native American art is limited to particular styles or materials or focused on particular eras. Instead, they reveal how thought-provoking contemporary art can be and how relevant it is to issues of today,” Eiteljorg President and CEO John Vanausdall said.

Developed by a team led by Jennifer Complo McNutt, the Eiteljorg’s curator of contemporary art, the traveling exhibition Native Art Now! 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 20th and early 21st 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. Excerpts will be shown during the Nov. 11 discussions Richards is facilitating at the museum.

James Lavadour (Walla Walla, born 1951)
Naming Tanager, 2001
Oil on wood
Museum Purchase: Eiteljorg Fellowship. Acquisition in honor of Bonnie Reilly for her long service to the museum’s Collections Council.

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 will be available at the Frank and Katrina Basile Museum Store.

Once the Native Art Now! exhibition closes Jan. 28, it goes on tour to other cities. Meanwhile, two other ongoing exhibitions of contemporary Native art are on view elsewhere in the Eiteljorg. Located in the Hurt and Harvey galleries, the exhibit 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.

For visitors, all exhibits are included in regular Eiteljorg admission and are free for museum members.

Intended primarily for working artists, scholars and art students, the roundtable and panel discussion sessions in the museum’s Clowes Court on Saturday Nov. 11 are open to the public, but there is a registration fee: $30 per person and $15 for students. An exhibit opening celebration Saturday evening Nov. 11 is $50 for museum members and $60 for nonmembers.Those interested in making reservations to attend either of the Saturday events should contact [email protected] or 317.275.1341. Meanwhile, a separate breakfast panel discussion with the artists on Sunday morning Nov. 12 is free, but attendees should make reservations.

Truman Lowe (Ho-Chunk, born 1944)
Feather Canoe, 1993
Willow, domestic goose feathers, copper wire
Gift: To the memory of Martin and Mabel Lowe, Milton and Carolyn Knabe

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