Sweeping ‘Neo Native’ Contemporary Arts Symposium Comes to UC Riverside

“Racial Profiling” by Craig George, one of the artists featured in the “Neo Native” exhibition

Published October 26, 2017

The four-day event will bring together Native American artists and curators, historians, and scholars who specialize in Native American studies

RIVERSIDE, CALIFORNIA — An unprecedented four-day symposium hosted by the University of California, Riverside will spotlight Native American artists whose work explores aspects of the contemporary Native experience.

Held November 1-4, 2017, “Neo Native: Toward New Mythologies” further brings to life the Sam and Alfreda Maloof Foundation for Arts and Crafts’ 40-work exhibition of the same name, which opened in June at the Alta Loma-based gallery.

The exhibition, curated by Navajo painter Tony Abeyta, includes pieces from 11 contemporary artists with American Indian tribal affiliations, including ceramicists, painters, photographers, printmakers, and sculptors.

At the symposium, eight of the exhibition’s featured artists — including Abeyta, who works in both Berkeley and Santa Fe, New Mexico — will meet to discuss their practices and the greater roles art plays in Native communities.

Joining them are 23 internationally celebrated visual artists, photographers, filmmakers, cinematographers, performers, screenwriters, scholars, and one composer-instrumentalist, each of whom will contribute to the conversation initiated by the exhibition’s body of artistic work during panel sessions, Q&As, keynote presentations, or live performances.

The symposium’s keynote speakers include Paul Chaat Smith, author, critic, and associate curator of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., and artists Christi Belcourt and Isaac Murdoch, both of whom created banners for water protectors during the Dakota Access Pipeline protests as part of their Onaman Collective.

“The symposium is brilliantly timed,” Smith said. “Major art museums are rethinking how they’re presenting Native works, and some are now including them in their American galleries. This month’s issue of Art in America magazine is devoted to Indian art, with an Edgar Heap of Birds work on the cover.

“It’s a season of unprecedented possibility; I’m looking forward to seeing how the artists, curators, performers, and other troublemakers will help us understand this moment in all its complexity and potential.”

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