Beauty Surrounds Us September 23, 2006–September 23, 2008 George Gustav Heye Center, New York
This exhibition of 77 works from the museum's collection will inaugurate the new Diker Pavilion for Native Arts and Cultures. Beauty Surrounds Us features an elaborate Quechua girl's dance outfit, a Northwest Coast chief's staff with carved animal figures and crest designs, Seminole turtle shell dance leggings, a conch shell trumpet from pre-Columbian Mexico, a Navajo saddle blanket, and an Inupiak (Eskimo) ivory cribbage board. The exhibition includes two interactive media stations, at which visitors may access in-depth descriptions of each object and, through virtual imaging technology, view and rotate a selection of the objects to examine them more closely.
Indigenous Motivations: Recent Acquisitions from the National Museum of the American Indian July 22, 2006–July 22, 2007 George Gustav Heye Center, New York
Indigenous Motivations focuses on works the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) has acquired since 1990. That year, the Heye Foundation's Museum of the American Indian—including George Gustav Heye's historic collection—became the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian. As a living museum, the NMAI continues to build its collection through purchases and donations. Since 1990, the museum has acquired some 15,000 objects, including more than 6,200 pieces that were transferred to the NMAI from the federal Indian Arts and Crafts Board Headquarters Collection.
Presenting pieces made after 1950, Indigenous Motivations reveals how Native artists continue to be influenced by tradition, innovation, and art—combining these elements in their work according to their personal vision and aesthetics.
Will Wilson: Auto Immune Response May 6, 2006–September 24, 2006 George Gustav Heye Center, New York
As a photographer and installation artist, Will Wilson (Diné/Bilagaana, b. 1969) creates a deliberate counter narrative to romantic visions of Native people living in an unchanging past. Though born in San Francisco, he draws inspiration from the many years he spent living on the Navajo Reservation as a child.
In Auto Immune Response, Wilson offers a powerful vision of a postapocalyptic future. This imagined environment includes comforting symbols of cultural persistence, such as a hogan (a traditional Navajo dwelling), coexisting with computers, wires, and futuristic furnishings. By constructing a steel hogan in the gallery, Wilson transforms the visitor from observer to participant. Enveloped by the artist's landscape, we are asked to consider our own place in the universe and, as exhibition curator Joe Baker from the Heard Museum states, "the complex environmental and social issues that are a consequence of contemporary society."
Will Wilson: Auto Immune Response was organized by the Heard Museum, Phoenix, Arizona, and curated by Joe Baker (Delaware Tribe of Indians), Lloyd Kiva New Curator of Fine Art.
Will Wilson, Auto Immune Response #5 (detail), 2004. Archival inkjet print, 112 x 277 cm. Collection of the artist.
Virgil Ortiz: La Renaissance Indigène May 6, 2006–September 24, 2006 George Gustav Heye Center, New York
Virgil Ortiz (Cochiti Pueblo, b. 1969) is an artist whose work defies easy definition. He is a ceramicist, sculptor, jeweler, painter, fashion designer, trendsetter, and provocateur. Situated between the traditions of his Native community and the expansive frontier of the international art world, Ortiz's work is personal, electric, and audacious.
Ortiz, who began making pottery with his family at the age of six, has adapted the artistic techniques and principles of Cochiti traditions to his innovative multimedia works. By adding provocative details to his figures, Ortiz continues Cochiti's use of figurative pottery as social critique. The artist's signature calligraphic style, use of diverse textures and media, and uninhibited approach to contemporary subjects are magnified in this new body of work, including ceramics and his first couture fashion collection.
Virgil Ortiz: La Renaissance Indigène was organized by the Heard Museum, Phoenix, Arizona, and curated by Joe Baker (Delaware Tribe of Indians), Lloyd Kiva New Curator of Fine Art.
Virgil Ortiz, Master & 2 Tics (detail), 2002. Cochiti red clay, white clay slip, red clay slip, black (wild spinach) paint, 69 x 38 x 30 cm. Collection of Cyndy and Bob Gallegos. Photo by Chad Tanner.
Born of Clay: Ceramics from the National Museum of the American Indian November 5, 2005–May 30, 2007 George Gustav Heye Center, New York
Indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere have been making pottery for thousands of years, and for many Native people ceramics maintain a sense of profound meaning and purpose. The 301 remarkable pieces in this exhibition span 5,000 years and four distinct regions�the Andes, eastern North America, Mesoamerica, and the southwestern United States. These clay creations are explored as the products of ongoing, complex societies and individual artistry.
Born of Clay includes the ideas of eight potters from the four regions. These contemporary artists tell us that despite differences in the composition, form, and decoration of pottery, Native potters share respect for ancestral traditions, a belief in the sacredness of clay, and an appreciation for the changing use of ceramics. Their voices reveal stories of continuity and change across millennia.
Jaina-style Maya figure of the ruler Halach Huinik, AD 400–800. Campeche, Mexico. Molded and painted ceramic. 23/2216. Photo by NMAI Photo Services.