Project tells story of two decades of printmaking by Native artists
Two exhibits each tell a similar story. While the message may be similar, each one has its own voice.
“Air, Land, Seed” and “Octopus Dreams” are being showcased by 516 ARTS in Downtown Albuquerque.
The two exhibits showcase contemporary Native American artists in global contexts.
“Air, Land, Seed” started with professor and curator Nancy Marie Mithlo. Along with Mithlo, John Hitchcock, Elisabetta Frasca, Paul Baker Prindle and Sarah Anne Stolte helped curate the exhibit. The exhibit addresses global tensions between home and exile, drawing from the unique perspectives of the indigenous peoples of Native North America.
The show has the work of nine contemporary artists engaged in the medium of printmaking/paper.
Mithlo says the project expands across time and place, and to tell the story correctly she must stretch her arms around two decades of art making.
“The telling of this story does not come naturally,” she explains. “For like many realities of the indigenous world, it is laced with loss and sorrow. I am likely to be overly sentimental.”
Mithlo says this year the artists and organizers responsible for taking “Air, Land, Seed” to Venice, Italy, chose to address the militarization of indigenous homelands.
“Tanks, guns, fires and flags are caught at the moment of contact – at war with the sensibilities that define an indigenous existence,” she says. “That delicate balance between nature and humans out of control and spiraling ever towards some soon to be encountered abyss.”
The artists featured in the exhibit are Faisal Abud’Allah, Emily Arthur, Marwin Begaye, Dyani White Hawk, Ryan O’Malley, Henry Payer, Duane Slick, C. Maxx Stevens and Hitchcock.
“The artists of ‘Air, Land, Seed’ gently remind us that yes, we live in dangerous times, but remember, we are only human,” Mithlo says.
Meanwhile, upstairs at 516 ARTS and running concurrently, “Octopus Dreams” features more than 30 Native American artists.
The project was designed to showcase Native work from across the nation and it later traveled to the Ekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts in Russia as part of a celebration of the Russian-American friendship in 2012.
The show was broken up into two different exhibits – one containing 200 pieces and the other with 50 pieces.
ling shows,” she says. “But both the shows remained in Russia for some time because people just resonated with the pieces. It was a very good response.”
RTS will be the one with 50 pieces and Fricke says each artist has a point of view.
“The Ancient Child.”The show was curated by Suzanne Newman Fricke and Beverly Morris.
Fricke says the show was originally put together at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe.”This came together quickly for an exhibit of this size,” Fricke says. “It also helped that many of the artists were eager to give us the art to showcase.”
“What’s cool about these two shows is that they weren’t supposed to be traveThe show at 516 A”There were some artists who actually created new pieces for the show,” she says. “That was quite a treat because it showed how they were inspired by what we were doing.”
Fricke got the idea to title the show from N. Scott Momaday’s 1990 novel
She says in the book, a Native artist dreams he is walking by the sea and sees a half-dead octopus on the shore and puts it back at sea.
“It just fit the entire project,” she says.
Fricke says all of the works display the same connection between past and present.
“The artists share certain similarities,” she explains. “All are by living artists, all have ties to officially recognized tribes, and all work on paper.”
While there are similarities, there are differences in styles, tone and subject.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how the exhibit is viewed here,”
she says. “New Mexico is full of contemporary Native American art and many of us know a lot about it. I want people to be inspired and have those conversations started.”