Tom Farris, “Na, Na, Na, Na…” (2018), acrylic on canvas, 12 x 24 inches (Batman translated and written Cherokee) (courtesy the artist)

In April, 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. SWAIA has announced that it will partner with the Clark Hulings Fund for Visual Artists to produce a virtual market this summer.

For this 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. You can find past spotlights here.

Joe D. Horse Capture, Vice President of Native Collections and the Ahmanson Curator of Native American History and Culture at the Autry Museum of the West (courtesy the Autry Museum of the West)

Joe D. Horse Capture is the Vice President of Native Collections and the Ahmanson Curator of Native American History and Culture at the Autry Museum of the West. A second-generation Native American curator, Horse Capture is a member of the A’aniiih tribe located at Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, MT. His previous positions include curatorial roles at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the National Museum of the American Indian-Smithsonian Institution; he was also the Director of Native American Initiatives department at the Minnesota Historical Society. He is widely published in the field of Native American art and has organized numerous exhibitions throughout his career.

Summer F. Peters, “Decolonize Your Gitch” (2015), copper and glass beads (courtesy the artist, photo by Ziibiwing Center in Mt Pleasant, MI)

Summer F. Peters (Saginaw Chippewa): I enjoy Indian Market because it challenges how we often think about Native American art; it breaks boundaries that we have artificially imposed. Summer uses traditional Ojibwe artistic beadwork to create unexpected contemporary pieces. Here, Summer created a set that speaks to the past, present, and Native femininity.  

Pat Pruitt, Untitled (2015), zirconium, titanium damascus, stainless steel, 14 x 14 x 1 inches (courtesy the artist)

Pat Pruitt (Laguna Pueblo): Pat’s work is wearable while being aggressively futuristic. He studied mechanical engineering and traditional silverwork, which has led him to create works in stainless-steel, titanium, and zirconium. His works take what we often think of as Southwest style jewelry to a new level. It’s today. It’s tomorrow. It’s wonderful. It’s wild. It’s Indian Market. 

Tom Farris, “The Sith Hits the Fan: Decolonization Strikes Back” (2020), custom built light saber hilt, commercial feathers, and LED light strip, 21.5 x 8.5 inches (courtesy the artist)

Tom Farris (Otoe-Missouria/Cherokee): With “The Sith Hits the Fan: Decolonization Strikes Back,” Tom combines Star Wars pop culture references with Native fan making traditions. His weapon of choice to reclaim Native culture is a light saber armed with feathers, which are symbols of strength within Native American traditions.

Elias Not Afraid, Apsaalooké rosette with ivory (2020), bull elk ivory, antique brass chain, antique/rare cut glass beads, smoked deer hide, vintage meta/jewelry findings, 6 x 18 inches (photo by Aldric Meints)

Elias Not Afraid (Crow): Whether using Crow designs as inspiration or digging into his creative processes, Elias’s beadwork is inspiring, fashionable, and vibrant. He often includes items that are important to his culture, like the elk teeth in this work. 

Holly Young, “Dakota Woman” (2018), old music sheets, 10” x 14”, prisma colored pencils and archival ink (photo courtesy the artist)

Holly Young (Standing Rock): There are a handful of women creating Plains-style graphic works, a media that was historically done by men. Holly’s work often focuses on her guiding light; her ancestors, and Dakota aesthetics. The musical notes on the paper compliment the graceful curvilinear lines of the floral motifs that are often found in her work.

Avatar photo

Ellie Duke

Ellie Duke was the Southwest US editor at Hyperallergic. She also co-edits the literary journal Contra Viento. She lives in Santa Fe, NM. Find her on Twitter.