No Reservations: Native American History and Culture in Contemporary ArtAugust 23, 2006—February 25, 2007
Exhibition Reception: Sunday, October 15, 2006; 3 to 6 pm
In the first decade of the twenty-first century, census figures attest that more and more Americans are identifying themselves as Native American. With the populace claiming Native ancestry growing three times as fast as the population as a whole, Native people are one of the fastest-growing minority groups in the United States.
Recognizing its location in an area steeped in Native lore, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum is pleased to announce the exhibition No Reservations: Native American History and Culture in Contemporary Art, which will be on view from August 23, 2006, to February 25, 2007. The exhibition reception will be on Sunday, October 15, from 3 to 6 pm. Direct transportation from New York is available. Please call 203.438.4519 to reserve a seat.
Curated by Aldrich director of exhibitions Richard Klein and funded by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation, and LEF Foundation, this large-scale group exhibition looks at artists whose work deals with both the deep cultural legacies and complex histories of Native peoples in the United States. The project challenges preconceived ideas of what form Native-influenced work can take.
The ten artists in the exhibition are Matthew Buckingham, Lewis deSoto, Peter Edlund, Nicholas Galanin, Jeffrey Gibson, Rigo 23, Duane Slick, Marie Watt, Yoram Wolberger, and Edie Winograde. This is a generation that has come of age since the initial Native Rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Their work acknowledges the past, while integrating the influences of the modern world and global culture. Much of the work being considered does not look Indian, but rather incorporates Native content in surprising and innovative ways that defy easy categorization.
additional images | click to enlarge
Yoram Wolberger, Red Indian Chief, 2005, 91 1/2 x 76 3/4 x 19 1/4 inches, Reinforced fiberglass composite
GE has donated silicone for use in Jeffrey Gibson's new site-specific work and Sheila and Charlie Perrin have donated about 400 blankets, which Marie Watt will utilize to create a major new sculpture entitled Dwelling. In accord with the artist's intention, at the conclusion of the exhibition the blankets will be distributed to homeless shelters and low-income families throughout Connecticut.
Significantly, the exhibition includes work by both Native and non-Native artists, but will present only artists who engage the larger contemporary art world, as opposed to those attempting to maintain strict Native artistic traditions. No Reservations is based on the premise that the influence of Native culture and history is pervasive and has acted as inspiration for a diverse group of artists, resulting in work that explores the topic from multiple vantage points.
The implication of organizing No Reservations on the East Coast, and particularly in Connecticut, is also important and wide-ranging. The Aldrich is located in a region where European colonization initiated the first truly organized genocide of Native peoples. The Pequot, of eastern Connecticut, were the first tribal group living in the land that would become the United States to be systematically eliminated. This history, combined with the rebirth and economic success of the Pequot nation in the last 25 years, creates a significant social and political landscape in which to present this exhibition.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a major catalogue, including contributions by Native writer and curator Paul Chaat Smith, who is associate curator of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, and co-author of Like a Hurricane: The Indian Movement from Alcatraz to Wounded Knee, and noted writer Fergus M. Bordewich, author of Killing the White Man's Indian and Bound for Canaan: The Underground Railroad and the War for the Soul of America.
No Reservations Panel Discussion
Top of page: Lewis deSoto, CONQUEST, 2004, Full-sized customized motor vehicle, 4.5 x 6.5 x 18.5 feet