Visual Culture Lecture Series
The exhibit ENCODED: Traditional Patterns/A Contemporary Response is on display at the Tweed Museum of Art through March 17, 2013.
ENCODED was guest curated by John Hitchcock, who is a printmaker and installation artist, as well as a professor of art at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Hitchcock selected five artists for the project, and each artist reviewed and selected objects from the Museum collection to display alongside their own works in the exhibition.
Hitchcock’s curatorial stance allowed the artists great freedom to define themselves. In his curatorial statement, he said, “ENCODED responds to a general trend in contemporary art and museum practice to invite critical reflection, and to view responses to museum collections as a basis for art-making and exhibition development. In this instance, the artists can freely position and create voices for their own work and for works from a museum collection. They create not only paintings and works on paper but curatorial projects, installation art, public art, and convergence media that are “encoded” with an indigenous aesthetic. These encoded “conversions” are happening locally, nationally, and globally, evidence of a contemporaneity and a power that is unique to the Native experience.”
The exhibit’s artists come from a variety of geographic and tribal backgrounds: Emily Arthur (Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation) from Florida; America Meredith (Swedish-Cherokee) living in New Mexico; Henry Payer (Winnebago from Nebraska) and Tom Jones (Ho Chunk), both living in Wisconsin; and Dyani White Hawk (Sicangu Lakota, German, and Welsh) living in Minnesota.
Their choices and statements reveal surprising, often unexpected connections. Henry Payer selected a kitsch wall hanging with an Indian-stereotyping quote to exhibit with his advertising-influenced collages, because, as he said in his artist’s statement, “If I was to find this in an antique store, it would be something I would use as an appropriated voice within my collage works."
Santa Fe-based artist America Meredith reflected more broadly in her artist’s statement,“ENCODED is a very apt name for a show dealing with traditional arts. Beadwork, hide painting, carving, ceramics, and other art forms were not just pretty; they were all visual languages that conveyed information on multiple wavelengths — iconography, color symbolism, composition, proxemics, materials, etc. . . . By studying Native art, I hope to further understand our cosmologies, oral history, philosophy, and our art history. My art is the primary vehicle I use to share the information I've gleaned, which is why I include representations of early Native art in my own artwork.”
Hitchcock is the first of two guest curators working at the Tweed Museum of Art under the auspices of “Perspectives and Parallels: Expanding Interpretative Foundations” with American Indian guest curators and arts writers. The program is supported by a highly competitive Access to Artistic Excellence Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The second guest curator will be Amber-Dawn Bear Robe (Alberta, Canada, Siksika Nation Blackfoot). Her project will premiere in 2013.
“Perspectives and Parallels” allows guest curators to create exhibitions with American Indian artists and others that also make use of collections at the Tweed, especially The Richard E. and Dorothy Rawlings Nelson Collection of American Indian Art.
The project also utilizes writers Amy Lonetree and Joanna Bigfeather who have provided critical texts in response to the work of the guest curators. Their essays and other information can be accessed on the Tweed Museum website.
These curators and writers bring fresh perspectives to both the Museum and the community on what it means to be 21st century artists with ties to American Indian traditions. “As more artists and curators interact with the museum’s collection, their unique points of view enlarge its meaning and allow the Museum an expanded range of interpretive opportunities,” said Ken Bloom, director of the Tweed Museum.
The Tweed Museum of Art is free and open to the public. Museum hours are Tues. 9 am-8pm, Wed.-Fri. 9am-4:30 pm, Sat. and Sun. 1-5 pm. The Tweed is located in Ordean Court on the campus of the University of Minnesota Duluth. For more information, visit the Tweed Museum of Art website.
|Henry Payer, Westward Expansion, 2012, Paper, grass, plyboard, paperbag on insulation, 15" x 12", Collection of the artist||America Meredith, Good Luck, 2012, acrylic on panel, 18" H x24" W x 3/4" D, Collection of the artist|
Written by Kathleen McQuillan-Hofmann, September 2012