Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Migrations: New Directions in Native American Art at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Keene College

Migrations: New Directions in Native American Art on Exhibit through January 9, 2010

It is quite the honor to show this art at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center, Gunalshéesh, thank you. I've heard nothing but good things about the museum and would like to visit it sometime. Tribal museums have a special place in my heart, because they generally have a remarkable connection to the people that honors the richness and diversity of the indigenous cultures and societies of the people of the Americas. Many tribal museums also distinguish themselves from the crowd by prioritizing indigenous values as a part of their mission statements. I always feel instantly at home in them. Not only that, they usually have killer cafeterias with authentic indigenous food; that may be my new criteria for museum participation. When I get queries from curators, I'll ask them to send me a copy of their cafateria menu beforehand.

This exhibition is also being shown at the Keene State College Thorne-Sagendorph Art Gallery in New Hampshire. One of my ex-colleagues and MFA school buddies, Joan O'Beirne (who teaches in the Keene State Art Department) invited me to do a very cool online interview with her students this week. We used Skype and had me do a presentation about the art in general and had a Q&A session afterward, all online. How cool is that? Here is a screen shot of us getting ready for the online session. I used a Lowel Tota light in my office to give it some nice lighting. I talked about my art in general and the lithographs that I made as part of the Migrations project. It was fun, the first time I've done a visiting artist gig online. I take that back, I was part of another online group art project two years ago with Maria Williams and the high tech digital project she developed at the University of New Mexico two years ago.

McNeil as a visiting artist at Keene College via Skype.

At any rate, this art exhibit showcases the work of six Native artists who worked closely with master printers at the Tamarind Institute in Albuquerque, NM, and at the Crow's Shadow Press on the Umatilla Reservation in Oregon.

The six artists in this important show-Steven Deo, Tom Jones, Larry McNeil, Ryan Lee Smith, Star Wallowing Bull, and Marie Watt, and they represent a wide range of stylistic approaches, tribal affiliations, and media. Now showing in the Mashantucket Gallery. This exhibition was organized by the University of New Mexico Art Museum in Albuquerque in collaboration with the Tamarind Institute at UNM. Support for this project was provided by none other than the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The "kicker" for my participation was when I heard our good friend Jaune Quick-To See Smith was involved. As soon as I heard she was participating, in went my materials to this juried show. Jaune inspired entire generations of artists, me included. While making a lot of my own art, I would keep her catalogs around the studio for inspiration. One of my all-time favorite prints of hers is Indian Heart. It is a contemporary masterpiece and still takes my breath away.

The companion book is beautifully illustrated with high quality reproductions, and the essays by various scholars and critics are uniquely insightful and well written. I really love this exhibition, Migrations, New Directions in Native American Art, because the art is very invigorating with an intellectual edge while still being quite beautiful. I fully credit my fellow artists, and it has been fun to see the new art they've been producing since when the lithographs were made for this exhibition in 2004.

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