Museum of Contemporary Native Arts

Relations: indigenous dialogue

July 8, 2006 – September 30, 2006

Relations stands for the interconnection of humans, nature and spirit that define the Indigenous world, and is designed to provoke thought, argument and dialogue. Through the display of contemporary Indigenous art installations, spoken language elements, written statements and video interviews, the exhibit will model contemporary Indigenous Art as manifestation of a shared world.

As one of the project organizers, Joseph Sanchez, says, “Indigenous dialogue is not a new idea. Native peoples have gathered to talk and share for millennia. Today, it is a core group of artists talking and working together as relations in an effort to engage Indigenous artists from around the world to dialogue. To be honest about who they are and the problems they are facing with the creation of their work, its acceptance by their tribal group, family, collectors, museums and public. It is the openness of the Relations artists to discuss difficult issues, and their willingness to share their thoughts freely that makes this exhibition unique and a privilege for all of us to experience.”

The project builds on assertions identified by the core artist/curatorial team derived from the history and evolution of indigenous communities and their impact on the planet. The essential challenge is to find ways to keep culture intact and communicate the primary question around sustaining and renewing the Indigenous world: “How do we tell the next generation who we are?” says Relations contributor Roxanne Swentzell.

The exhibit will challenge unspoken issues which hamper understanding and broad acceptance of the critical value of contemporary Indigenous World Art to our world society. Among the many intentions of Relations are:

  • to promote meaningful dialogue between all levels of indigenous and non-indigenous worlds
  • to expand inclusiveness and scope of contemporary art in Santa Fe, NM to include a larger array of global, non-western, non-mainstream perspectives
  • to demonstrate the range, diversity and impact of contemporary Indigenous world art
  • to recognize the still-pervasive stereotype which relegates Indigenous and “Native” art to inferior, craft status vis-à-vis the work of Euro American artists
  • to challenge perceptions and expectations of museum visitors and critics that Indigenous art should adhere to “authentic” forms, styles and media
  • to initiate composition of a working definition of Contemporary Indigenous Art for all audiences, including the artists themselves.

Relations will involve many global indigenous contributors, including established artists Harry Fonseca, Rocky Ka’iouilokahihikolo’ Ehu Jensen, Art Omittuk, Simon Ortiz, Roxanne Swentzel, Alex Janvier, and emerging artists Jacob Fragua III, Sara Ortiz, Rose Simpson, and Micah Wesley

Museum admission is free with a donation. Relations will be augmented by programs, including the “Conversations to Remember” dialogues, as well a publication that brings together thought provoking essays and dialogues related to the exhibition.

For the first time, the IAIA Museum will dedicate its interior galleries and outdoor sculpture court to an international group of indigenous artists in a conversation examining the forces of interconnection and change taking place among Indigenous art circles. Relations presents a fully interactive dialogue between contemporary artists, across generations and geographies. Its perspectives are conceived outside of western curatorial constructs and colonial coercions.

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