Joslyn Art Museum Welcomes New Associate Curator of Native American Art

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By Amy Rummel

Annika Johnson, PhD, the new associate curator of Native American art at the Joslyn Art Museum

Omaha, NE – Joslyn Art Museum announces the appointment of Annika K. Johnson, PhD, as the museum’s new associate curator of Native American art.

She specializes in 19th-century Native American art and exchange with
European-Americans, with a focus on the Upper Midwest. Dr. Johnson grew up in the Twin Cities — Dakota homelands called Mni Sota Makoceand received her PhD in art history from the University of Pittsburgh. Building relationships with Native communities and employing decolonizing strategies have been critical to her research and curatorial practice.

In spring 2018, Joslyn received a significant grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to establish this new position, charged with expanding the visual narrative and didactic program for Joslyn’s historic and contemporary Indigenous collections. The foundation funding supports the first four years of Dr. Johnson’s appointment, which begins August 12, 2019.

Joslyn Art Museum

Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska. Photo: S. C. Hargis (CC BY-ND 2.0).

“Joslyn’s extensive Native American art collection presents a fantastic opportunity to activate new ways of thinking about Native art,” noted Dr. Johnson. “As a non-Native person, my work here begins with listening and also learning about the collection and Indigenous history of the region. Recent efforts to revise and expand the understanding of American art by bringing Indigenous perspectives to the forefront have generated highly provocative and illuminating exhibitions. I am very excited to partner with Native artists and communities to make those critical connections throughout Nebraska and the region.”

Joslyn executive director and CEO Jack Becker said, “Annika has demonstrated considerable passion and success in her work with Indigenous communities. She will be a tremendous advocate for Native voices, while making a serious scholarly contribution to our Indigenous collections and programming, and we warmly welcome her to Joslyn.” Becker noted that while Joslyn holds significant examples of 19th- and 20th-century Native American art and artifacts, the Museum has never had a curatorial position dedicated exclusively to Indigenous art. “This underserved collection presents the opportunity for Annika to develop new research, installations, exhibitions, and programming, as well as significant new community-facing initiatives through partnerships with contemporary Indigenous artists, regional tribal communities, and academic institutions at the university, secondary, and primary levels.”

Dr. Johnson has curated exhibitions in Pittsburgh, New York, and Minnesota that examine a range of historic and contemporary works. In 2015, she studied Australian Aboriginal art and curatorial methods in the Northern Territory with funding from the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA). Support from the Smithsonian American Art Museums, Mellon Foundation, the University of Pittsburgh, and a 2017-2019 CASVA Wyeth Fellowship have given her the opportunity to view Native artworks in collections across the United States and Europe. She has recently given lectures on Dakota art and cross-cultural art histories at the Kunsthistorisches Institut Florence, British Museum, and National Gallery of Art (Washington, DC). In 2016 she was co-editor in chief of the art history journal Contemporaneity, and her writings span subjects of cultural exchange and have appeared in Archives of American Art Journal (forthcoming), American Indian Culture and Research Journal, First American Art Magazine, and the Journal of Japonisme.

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