Indigenous art. Indigenous perspectives.

Top 10 Native Art Events 2014


First American Art Magazine‘s Top 10 Native Art Events of 2014

For Native American art, 2014 has been a bustling, productive year, with groundbreaking art shows, tribes encouraging and promoting their artists, publications heralding new art research, and prehistoric artworks being celebrated. Indigenous artists won major mainstream awards and exhibited in international art fairs. While challenges remain in educating the public about Native art, 2014 saw exhibits of Indigenous art receive critical acclaim from the mainstream media and public sentiment shifting towards the tribes in the issue of repatriating sacred cultural patrimony. First American Art Magazine chose our top ten events that marked this exciting year in Native art.

1. Allan Houser’s Centennial Retrospectives

A century ago, Allan Houser became the first Fort Sill Apache child born free and not as a prisoner-of-war. He later went on to become one of the greatest Native American Modernist sculptors of the 20th century. In an unprecedented move, Oklahoma art institutions coordinated throughout the year to mark his hundredth birthday with art exhibitions. The Chisholm Trail Heritage Center, Duncan; Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Norman; Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa; Museum of the Red River, Idabel; National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City; Oklahoma Arts Council, Oklahoma State Capitol, Oklahoma City; Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma City; Oklahoma History Center, Oklahoma City; Oklahoma State University (OSU) Museum of Art, Stillwater; Philbrook Downtown, Tulsa; Southern Plains Indian Museum, Anadarko; and Will Rogers World Airport, Oklahoma City, all hosted exhibits of Allan Houser’s art. The Allan Houser Gallery in downtown Santa Fe remodeled and hosted a series of art shows pairing Houser’s work with other artists. Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona, and the Hood Museum at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, also hosted solo exhibits of Allan Houser. | link

 2. Bienal Intercontinental de Arte Indígena (BIAI) V

The Intercontinental Biennial of Indigenous Art celebrated its first decade in Ecuador and featured artists from throughout the Andes and the Amazon, as well as Indigenous artists from as far away as Tibet, Egypt, and Norway. This year the biennial was housed in Centro Cultural Itchimbía, an 1889 glass-walled building, overlooking the city of Quito. The biennial’s chairman, Jorge Iván Cevallos, has arranged for the category winners from this year’s BAIA to travel to Portland, Maine, and Cairo, Egypt. | link

3. Arctic Adaptations: Nunavut at 15, 14th International Architecture Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia

The Canadian Pavilion of this year’s architectural biennial in Venice, Italy, features several Inuit artists. Arctic Adaptations surveys a century of architecture in the province of Nunavut, through soapstone carvings, photography, architectural models, and animation. Nick Illauq (Inuk) was photography advisor for the photographs of the 25 communities in Nunavut. Inuit sculptors Jamesie Alivaktuk, Noah Enowyak, Jaco and Jupa Ishulutaq, Sandy Maniapik, Greg Morgan, Leo Mukjunik, David and Thomas Nibgoarsi, Lew Philip, Malaya Pitsiulak, and Anugakuluk Tikivik, carved representations of twelve significant Nunavut buildings in soapstone. The exhibit will travel in Canada through 2016. | link

4. For a Love of His People: The Photography of Horace Poolaw, National Museum of the American Indian, George Gustav Heye Center

horace poolawThis exhibition and catalogue are a culmination of a quarter-century of research and restoration of the photographs taken by Horace Poolaw (Kiowa, 1906–1984). For a Love of His People will exhibit through February 15, 2015. Co-curated by Nancy Marie Mithlo (Chiricahua Apache) and Tom Jones Jr. (Ho-Chunk), For a Love of His People features the often glamorous black-and-white photographs Poolaw shot of his family, neighbors, and visitors on the Southern Plains during the early and mid-20th century, a time of rapid changes to his intertribal community. | link

5. 7: Professional Native Indian Artists Inc.

Michelle LaVallee (Ojibwe) curated this retrospective of the Professional Native Indian Artists Inc. (PNIAI), commonly called “The Indian Group of Seven.” In the 1970s, seven First Nations artists, Jackson Beardy (Anishinini, 1944–1984), Eddy Cobiness (Ojibwe, 1933–1996), Alex Janvier (Dene Suline-Saulteaux), Norval Morrisseau (Ojibwe, 1932–2007), Daphne Odjig (Odawa-Potawatomi), Carl Ray (Ojibwe) and Joseph Sanchez (Tewa descent) joined together to build community and improve critical reception of Native art. The traveling exhibit, which opened at the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina Saskatchewan, is accompanied by a 360-page catalogue. | link

 6. Suzan Shown Harjo Receives the Presidential  Medal of Freedom

sharjoPresident Barack Obama awarded Cheyenne-Hodulgee Muscogee activist and policymaker Suzan Shown Harjo the presidential medal of freedom on November 26th. While presenting the award, the President said, “Through her work in government and as the head of the National Congress of American Indians and the Morningstar Institute, she has helped preserve a million acres of Indian land; helped develop laws preserving tribal sovereignty; she’s repatriated sacred cultural items to tribes while expanding museums that celebrate Native life.” Harjo has been an influential figure in the art world as well as the political world, as a curator, art collector, and poet. She recently curated the exhibit, Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations, on display at NMAI, DC, through fall of 2018. | link

7. Floral Journey: Native North American Beadwork, Autry National Center of the American West

autryThis ambitious show features over 250 objects and narratives showing the movement of floral iconography through Indian Country, accompanied by a hardbound catalogue by the show’s curator and an esteemed scholar, Lois Sherr Dubin. While some precontact works have floral designs, as did historical quillwork, floral imagery flourished with the arrival of glass beads. Far from being simply decorative, this show explains how floral beadwork became a secret language of resistance and a transmission of traditional Indigenous knowledge. The show continues through April 15, 2016, and will not travel. | link

8. SWAIA’s Santa Fe Indian Market + IFAM

Early in 2014, three of SWAIA’s small staff resigned and launched a new market, the Indigenous Fine Arts Market (IFAM). Rumors swirled about the precarious financial situation of the two organizations, yet, despite very real challenges, both rallied volunteers and successfully launched summer and winter markets. Many Native artists participated in both IFAM and SWAIA’s summer markets. SWAIA’s Santa Fe Indian Market remains the oldest and largest Native art event in the United States, and on its initial event, IFAM became of the six largest US Native art events. | SWAIA | IFAM

9. The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky,
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Curator Gaylord Torrence worked with the musée du quai Branly in Paris, France, to create an exhibit of their Plains Indian collection and, in his exhibit at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, showed pieces that hadn’t been in North America in two centuries. This breathtaking exhibit pairs precontact, historical, and contemporary works from throughout the Great Plains and beyond. Showing at the Nelson-Atkins until January 11, 2015, The Plains Indians: Arts of Earth and Sky will show the Metropolitan Museum of Art from March 2 to May 10, 2015. | link

10. Pre-Columbian Architecture Added to the UNESCO World Heritage List

poverty_pointUnited Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) added four pre-Columbian sites in the Americas to its World Heritage List in 2014. The Quapaq Ñan, Andean Road System ranges from Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, to Peru. Four precontact villages with mounds and stone spheres on the Diquís Delta in southern Costa Rica feature human-made mounds and the enigmatic stone spheres emblematic of Diquís culture. The 9th-century Maya city, Calakmul, in Campeche, Mexico, is surrounded by tropical forests, part of the greater Mesoamerican biodiversity hotspot. Poverty Point is a major earthwork complex in northeastern Louisiana, United States, built by a hunter-gatherer society circa 1750 BCE and 1150 BCE. | link

Annual Top Ten Native Art Events

2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019 | 2020 | 2023


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