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Earlier this month, the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA) announced that this year’s Indian Market, the largest and most important Native arts market in the United States, would be postponed until 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
In this new series, we asked curators and members of the Native arts community to spotlight five artists whose work they were looking forward to seeing at the 2020 Indian Market, with the hope that this can play a small part in making up for some of the exposure lost from the postponement of this year’s market. Our goal is to highlight Native artists who have continued to make important work amid these trying times.
First up, we asked Manuela Well-Off-Man, art historian and chief curator at the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe. Born and raised in Eastern Westphalia, Germany, Well-Off-Man previously served as curator at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and as curator of art at the Montana Museum of Art and Culture at the University of Montana in Missoula, Montana.
Anita Fields (Osage): Fields is nationally recognized for her unique rendering of ceramic sculptures and mixed-media installations, incorporating Osage symbolism. As a ceramic artist, she has created conceptual installations. She recently created stunning fabric art including Osage wedding regalia. Other textile works reference the complex layers and distortion of truths found in the written history of Indigenous cultures. —MW
Terran Last Gun (Piikani): Last Gun draws his inspiration from a variety of sources such as pop art, minimalism, color field, and geometric abstraction to depict pre-contact landscapes and engage with his Blackfoot ancestry. I especially like his use of color and the minimal aesthetic in his serigraphs! —MW
Kelly Church (Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians): It’s inspiring to see Kelly’s innovative approach to basketry art. She harvests and prepares all the materials for her contemporary basketry. Several of her works also address environmental issues: she has worked with Tribal Foresters, the USDA, and the Nature Conservancy on issues related to invasive pests that also destroy the natural resources for her art. —MW
Avis Charley (Spirit Lake Dakota/Diné): Charley’s strengths are her portraits of modern, strong Native women using the traditional art form of realistic portraiture — I especially like her painting of a female Native NoDAPL protester. She recently also became known for her ledger art. —MW
Ryan Singer (Diné): Ryan is part of a new generation of artists inspired by popular culture: his works blend traditional and contemporary Diné cultural references with sci-fi and gamer icons from mainstream sources in satirical ways. His works are currently on view in MoCNA’s Indigenous Futurisms: Transcending Past/Present/Future (a virtual online version can be accessed here). —MW
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