March 15, 2008

"Changing Hands 2"

A Native art exhibit at the Tucson Museum of Art:

2nd celebration of Indian artistsThere is a compelling search for--and statements of--identity. There are the conflict of cultures and the effects of straddling worlds and dealing with their often contradictory messages. There is homage to tradition even as these artists respond and react to contemporary issues. And there is a respect for and a connection with the natural world, especially as it yields a foundation for survival, identity and continuity.

"Changing Hands 2" is the second of three presentations put together by the Museum of Arts and Design, New York. "Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation--Contemporary Native American Art from the Southwest," was on view at TMA in 2003 and was the best-attended exhibition in TMA's history. The current exhibition runs through May 11.

Julie Sasse, chief curator at TMA, hopes that this exhibit "will offer a better understanding of the quality and scope of what's being created today by Native American artists, how they tap into tradition with a healthy reverence as a way to discover and build their own vision."
Examples of the art:One cannot help but be impressed by the diversity and breadth of this TMA offering. There is humor, satire, variety of vision and materials, and delightful surprises, like Marcus Amerman's skillfully beaded bracelets featuring Wonder Woman and the Lone Ranger and Tonto and the 15-minute animated story "How the Raven Stole the Sun" by Chris Kientz and Simon Daniel James.

There are a number of themes that emerge.

As one would expect, respect for and celebration of the natural world are most assuredly found here. One of the more dynamic pieces declaring such respect is Eric Robertson's "The Hub." Three large metal circles or hoops are suspended or hung at different angles. Intersecting each of these hoops are rows of parallel metal lines or rods from which hang hundreds of identical fish, also made of metal. The artist, from Vancouver, British Columbia, says this work "is in celebration of the euchalon" whose use played "a substantial role in cultural exchange, trade and commerce." The work is amplified by lighting that casts shadows of the hoops and fish. The effect is a joyful sense of wholeness and abundance.

Adding to this discussion is Doug Coffin's "Cigar Store Indian," a carved wooden figure whose face is a video screen on which plays an old black-and-white Western with the stereotypical shoot-'em-up cowboy and Indian chases. Interspersed with these scenes are interviews with actual Indians. The contrast not only challenges stereotypes, but in a way also offers a hint of reconciliation between disparate worlds.
Comment:  As you may recall, I've reported on Chris Kientz and the Raven Tales videos several times.

Go to the original article to see several examples of the art on display.

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