Museum of Contemporary Native Arts

Thicker Than Water

January 19 – May 12

Artists: Brenda Croft, Tom Jones, Greg Staats, Anna Tsouhlarakis
Curated by Nancy Marie Mithlo and Ryan Rice

Greg Staats, dark strings, 2010

Greg Staats, dark strings, 2010

The Museum of Contemporary Native Arts invited four photo/mixed media-based artists   Brenda L. Croft, Tom Jones, Greg Staats and Anna Tsouhlarakis to address the complexities of family, biography, and race that intersect through blood and memory. Portraiture, family photo albums, documentary film, private and public archives and performance offer a rich platform to explore manifestations of Indigenous knowledge that negotiate ideas of “blood” as metaphorical and racial/biological measures for family and communal relations.

Autobiography often connotes a concern only with one’s personal genealogy and the nuclear family. Thicker Than Water recognizes a broader understanding of communal ideologies that extends into and then past this western construct of individualism to encompass Indigenous references of community, clan, and nation. An awareness of these various levels of belonging enable conversations where the imaginary and the real intersect, co-mingle and create space for a more comprehensive understanding of Indigenous realities in global contexts. The selection of artists from Canada, the US and Australia facilitate this more expansive conversation on what the notion of “belonging” means in a globalized 21st century.

“Blood memories” and Indigenous worldviews serve as powerful political tropes that bear witness to the legacies of colonialism. Memory in this sense engages trans-generational experiences as a means of upholding the persistence of communal knowledge. Our stories and the visual representations of our ancestors become the language of remembrance, belonging and place across borders and time. The body acts as a potent reminder of all that has occurred over the past centuries via acculturation, death, disease and survival. Our blood, ever thicker than water, continues to instruct, remind and renew us as we move into new territories, imagine new stories and continue to create in the ever-evolving ways of our ancestors.


The exhibition is supported by a grant from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.