Off the Map: Landscape in the Native Imagination March 3, 2007–September 3, 2007 George Gustav Heye Center, New York
For Native people, land has multiple meanings. It is home, culture and identity, but it also represents violence, isolation and loss. The artists in Off the Map reinvent and examine landscape from this complex perspective, creating work that exists outside of Western landscape traditions. Their work also defies common expectations of Native American art in both its form and content.
Jeffrey Gibson's (Mississippi Band Choctaw/Cherokee) paintings utilize intensely colored marks, glossy and transparent pours, and pigmented silicone to depict an imaginary and fantastic environment. Carlos Jacanamijoy (Inga) is inspired by both the light and sounds of Colombia's tropical rainforest and the urban cityscape of his Brooklyn home in the creation of his dramatic interior landscapes. James Lavadour's (Walla Walla) elegant depictions of the landscape are rooted in his intimate relationship to the land near his home on the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Oregon. Erica Lord (Inuit/Athabascan), an emerging artist known for work that addresses themes of race, ethnicity and gender as well as memory and home, challenges the audience's perceptions of reality and place. Emmi Whitehorse's (Navajo) multilayered abstract work explores memory and land and draws upon language and symbolism.
The artists in Off the Map use the landscape as both muse and subject, but none seek to represent a specific place located in a guidebook or on a map. Their work embodies the longing and emotion, connection to and detachment from the land that are universal to contemporary Native experience.
Dibujo, 2005 (detail), Carlos Jacanamijoy (Inga). Oil on canvas, 63 x 79 in. Collection of the artist. Photo by Fabian Alzate.
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–June 10, 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.