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Contemporary and Traditional Artworks


Selections of both contemporary and historical objects are on display in this showcase. “The works span a wide range of practices from the very old to the very new, all of which illustrate how our relationships with time and place provoke innovative approaches to notions of tradition. Beadwork, viewed today as a traditional Native American art, is an example of the innovative nature of Native artists.


The glass seed beads we so commonly associate with Native arts were not a product created by Native Americans, yet a good from Europe that became available through trade during the early years of colonization. [Ojibwe] ancestors embraced this new medium and innumerable others, appropriating the material and incorporating it into established artistic practices. This foreign medium became the vehicle to support and foster cultural continuity during a time of extreme change. The artists represented by [their work in the Tweed Museum collection] provide stunning examples of the ways in which Native artists continue to embrace the contemporary while supporting tradition.


The work reflects both the unfaltering influences of change and the strength of our tribal nations. The dialog that emerges between pieces in the exhibit generally categorized as “traditional” and those categorized as “contemporary” highlights the dynamic nature of culture, encouraging a broader understanding of tradition. The works help us examine how these terms are associated with specific types of Native American art work and how these associations came to be. The line that has historically existed between tradition and contemporary begins to dissolve as we recognize that innovation is one of our traditions.”


Excerpt from Mni Sota: Reflections of Time and Place, 2011, by Dyani White Hawk Polk and Joe Horse Capture.



Image Gallery

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