Museum of Contemporary Native Arts

Upcoming Exhibitions

January 2015 Exhibitions

Main Galleries
Dark Light: The Ceramics of Christine Nofchissey McHorse
Curators: Garth Clark and Mark Del Vecchio
January 24 – July 31, 2015


Dark Light is the first traveling exhibition of this groundbreaking Navajo (Diné) artist. McHorse, a first-generation potter, is considered among the most innovative artists working today creating vessel-based art that is undecorated and abstract, with formal qualities indebted more to modern sculpture than to Southwestern culture.


With the urge to transgress and blur the boundaries between pottery and sculpture, in 1996 McHorse decided to leave utility and tradition behind and pursue shapes that had been haunting her for some time. A year later she made a pot that marked a breakthrough in her practice; instead of leaving it the natural tan color of the clay she placed it in a garbage can filled with burning leaves and closed the lid. By reducing the oxygen, the pot’s surface turned black. The flecks of mica from her locally sourced clay glittered dramatically against the black ground, creating an advancing and receding surface of dark and light. Her work is a revelation and represents a new direction in Native American ceramics. This survey exhibition includes works from McHorse’s Dark Light series from 1997 to the present.


The exhibition is organized by the non-profit Ceramic Arts Foundation, New York in association with Clark+DeVecchio in Santa Fe. A fully-illustrated 100-page monographic catalogue accompanies Dark Light. This book was awarded the bronze metal by the Independent Publishers Association in the Fine Art category-competing against over two thousand other publications.


About the artist:

McHorse was born in 1948 in Morenci, Arizona and lives and works in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She received her formal education at the Institute of American Indian Arts, where she studied between 1963 and 1968. McHorse has received numerous awards from the SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market, and the Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial, Gallup, as well as the Museum of Northern Arizona. Her work is included in the public collections of the Denver Museum of Natural History; Museum of New Mexico; Smithsonian Museum of American Art; Navajo Nation Museum; and the Rockwell Museum of Western Art. A first generation Navajo ceramic artist, she married Joel McHorse, a Taos Pueblo Indian, and learned to make pots through his grandmother, Lena Archuleta. Archuleta taught her to work with micaceous clay, a rare, but naturally occurring clay high in mica content found in the Taos area. McHorse is one of the most admired and successful Native potters, working with traditional techniques but making the kind of reductive, sculptural pots that one would have expected Brancusi to make, were he alive today. McHorse has the unique distinction of winning Best in Show for both pottery and sculpture at the annual SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market.


About the Curators:

Mark Del Vecchio (b. 1958) managed a business providing ceramic slides for educators before joining the Ceramic Arts Foundation (then The Institute for Ceramic History) in 1981. He was the organizing director for Modernism and Ceramics, CAF’s second international ceramic symposium at the Waldorf Astoria in New York. In the same year, in partnership with Garth Clark, he opened Garth Clark Gallery in Los Angeles, and then moved to New York in 1983 to direct GSG’s new gallery on West 57th Street. Del Vecchio was an organizing director of the Ceramic Millennium: Leadership Conference for the Ceramic Arts in Amsterdam in 1999, a conference attended by 3,500 delegates from 56 nations, which included a large ceramic arts and film festival. An active speaker internationally, Del Vecchio has also written numerous catalog essays and articles, and published the critically acclaimed book Postmodern Ceramic, a widely-used text in the art schools. His honors include lifetime achievement awards (Museum of Arts and Design, New York, Friends of Contemporary Ceramics) and an honorary doctorate from the Kansas City Art Institute.


Garth Clark (b. 1947 Pretoria, South Africa) is the leading writer and commentator on modern and contemporary ceramic art and an increasingly outspoken critic of the crafts movement. He is a graduate of the Royal College of Art, London in 1976. Clark is been the recipient of numerous awards and honors for his scholarship including The College Art Association’s 2005 Mather Award for distinguished achievement in art journalism; lifetime achievement awards from the Museum of Art and Design New York; National Council on Education for the Ceramics Arts, among others, and honorary doctorates from Staffordshire University, England; and Kansas City Art Institute, Missouri. In 1998, Clark was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Art, London. Garth Clark has written, edited and contributed to over sixty books on ceramic art and authored over two hundred essays, reviews and monographs that have been have been translated into dozens of languages. Clark was the co-owner with Mark Del Vecchio of the Garth Clark Gallery in New York and Los Angeles from 1981 to 2008. Now resident in Santa Fe, Clark is at work on several books and traveling exhibitions including on Lucio Fontana and Ai Weiwei’s ceramics. In 2012 he published the books Ceramic Reader (with Ezra Shales), an anthology on Marcel Duchamp’s 1917 readymade Fountain, and Shifting Paradigms in Contemporary Ceramics.


Fritz Scholder Gallery
Star Wallowing Bull: Mechanistic Renderings
January 24 – July 31, 2015


Featuring recent paintings and drawings, and a selection of new works, this exhibition will reveal Wallowing Bull’s evolving aesthetic, one that reflects a growing mechanical sensibility of both form and style. Wallowing Bull is recognized for his signature color pencil drawings on paper that investigate the intersection of Native American and contemporary pop culture. Stylistically abstract and semi-autobiographical, these intricately crafted compositions are defined by a dense network of line and form that animate the shallow picture plane. Recently, the Ojibwe-Arapahoe artist has been making acrylic on canvas paintings; certain of his pieces reflect the influence of Pop artist James Rosenquist who became a mentor to Wallowing Bull in 2005.


The mechanical aspects of things – how things work – have increasingly fascinated Wallowing Bull. His paintings and drawings depict figures, sometimes robot-like, and objects that often show the internal structure of their making – the literal and metaphorical cogs and wheels. Some works directly depict bundles of colorful electrical wires, common tools, energy sources or their machine-like elements. Although unintentional, Wallowing Bull’s style is reminiscent of early 20th Century artists such as Ferdinand Leger and the Italian Futurists.


About the artist:

Star Wallowing Bull was born in 1973 and raised in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis – Saint Paul, Minnesota. An Ojibwe-Arapahoe, he is a member of the White Earth Nation in Minnesota, and has lived in the Fargo, ND – Moorhead, MN area since 2001. He has received numerous awards including the prestigious 2010 Bush Foundation Artist Fellowship and a 2001 Native Artist Fellowship from the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution. His work is featured in the exhibition Before and After the Horizon: Anishinaabe Artists of the Great Lakes, organized by the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution, New York, NY, a comprehensive show that traveled to the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, Canada in 2014. The Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art in Overland Park, KS recently acquired one of Wallowing Bull’s drawings for their growing Native American Art collection that was included in their exhibition Contemporary American Indian Art in 2014. A one-person show of his work will open in the fall of 2015 at the Plains Art Museum, Fargo, ND. Wallowing Bull’s work is found in the collections of the aforementioned museums, as well as the Tweed Museum of Art, Duluth; The British Museum, London; and the Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis. His work is held in private collections throughout the United States.


South Gallery
Chris Pappan: Account Past Due, Ledger Art and Beyond
January 24 – July 31, 2015


This exhibition, a mix of new and recent works, includes drawings and paintings in Chris Pappan’s signature style of contemporary ledger art. The mid 1800’s saw the unprecedented expansion of the American empire, and with it, catastrophic changes for indigenous people. Beginning in the 1860s, paper was introduced to the plains via ledger books and was quickly adapted for the visual recording of the tumultuous times of the people of the plains.  Pappan continues the tradition by portraying a skewed vision of the past while commenting on the present with his series, 21st Century Ledger Drawing. While he draws and paints realistically, his figures are often deliberately distorted as a metaphor for the ways in which perceptions of Native peoples are distorted in mainstream media and popular culture both now and in the past. With figures and portraits both mythological and based in historic fact, Pappan’s works speak to the problematic idea of an open territory ready for conquest, and juxtaposes this with portraits of the Native people who continue to persevere, thrive, and endure in these territories.


About the artist:

Of Kaw, Osage, Cheyenne River Sioux heritage, Chris Pappan is a self-described Native American Lowbrow artist. His current artwork is based on American Indian ledger drawings of the mid to late 19th Century and gives them a 21st Century twist. Pappan recently returned from Australia as one of three artists chosen for the Landmarks Fellowship project with the renowned Tamarind Institute based in Albuquerque, NM. The fellowship consisted of an arts and cultural exchange with the Youngul people of Northern Australia and creating lithographs at the Tamarind Institute. He received the prestigious Discovery Fellowship from the Southwestern Association of Indian Artists (SWAIA) in 2011 and the Heard Museum’s Best of Class (Paintings, Drawings) and Best of Division (Drawing) at the 52nd annual Santa Fe Indian Market in 2010. Pappan’s work is in the collections of the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.; Spencer Museum of Art, Lawrence, Kansas; Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, Evanston, Illinois; The Schingoethe Center for Native American Cultures in Aurora, Illinois; and in private collections internationally. He has lived in Chicago for the past 20 years with his wife Debra Yepa-Pappan and their daughter Ji Hae.

North Gallery
War Department: Selections from MoCNA’s Permanent Collection
Guest Curator: Dr. Lara Evans
January 24 – July 31, 2015


All of the works in this exhibition have something to do with war, but depict very little gore or physical violence. The armed conflicts referenced in these artworks span 500 years, from the Spanish/Pueblo conquest, to World War II, Vietnam, Wounded Knee, the Mohawk/Oka Crisis, and present-day conflicts. This selection of works from the permanent collection examines the nuanced depictions of war and civil unrest in contemporary Native art. We tend to think of war as a separate category, a separate “department.” Most of the works break the artificial separations between war and not-war. Soldiers are embedded in daily life, with family and friends, ceremony, policies and politics. These artists show us ways in which wars spill outside warzone boundaries, decades and even hundreds of years later. The lasting impacts of war and civil unrest are not decided by government officials in offices, but by the stories we tell and how we tell them, long after the War Department is disbanded.

Note: The U.S. Department of War ceased operation in 1947, replaced by the Department of Defense and restructuring of the military branches.


Artists include: Shawn Bluejacket (Shawnee); T.C. Cannon (Caddo/Kiowa); David Neel (Kwakwaka’wakw); Dorothy Grandbois (Turtle Mountain Chippewa); Jean Lamarr (Paiute/Pitt river); Jack Malotte (Shoshone); Geronima Montoya (Ohkay Owingeh); Teresa Quintana (Kiowa); Heidi E. Rankin (Loyal Shawnee); Mateo Romero (Cochiti Pueblo); Floyd Solomon (Laguna/Zuni); Charlene Teters (Spokane); Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie (Navajo/Seminole); Marie K. Watt (Seneca); Melanie Yazzie (Navajo); and Alfred Young Man (Cree)


About the Permanent Collection of the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts:

The Museum of Contemporary Native Arts holds the premier collection of contemporary Native American art in the world from Native American, First Nations and other Indigenous peoples. This unique collection, known as the “National Collection of Contemporary Native American Art,” documents the art movements of the Institute of American Indian Arts and its impact on the Native American fine art movement. There are close to 7,500 artworks in the collection, which is comprised of paintings, works on paper, sculpture, ceramics, jewelry, photography, contemporary apparel, textiles, cultural arts, new media and installations.  Many prominent artists are represented including Tony Abeyta, Linda Lomahaftewa, George Morrison, Allan Houser, Helen Hardin, Truman Lowe, T.C. Cannon and Fritz Scholder-to name a few. This important collection is housed at the IAIA campus in a custom-built state-of-the-art storage facility, which opened in 2009. After a generous donation from the Robert and Barbara Ells Family, a collection gallery dedicated in their name was built into the collection facility. It is open daily, allowing visitors an opportunity to view the collection, much of which is housed in open storage, without appointment.


About the Curator:

Lara M. Evans, PhD (Cherokee Nation), is Associate Professor of Native American art history in the Museum Studies Department at the Institute of American Indians Arts. She earned her doctoral degree in art history with emphasis on contemporary Native American art at the University of New Mexico in 2005. Evans co-edited the book Art in Our Lives: Native Women Artists in Dialogue (SAR Press, 2010) and has contributed chapters to the edited publications Action and Agency: Advancing the Dialogue of Native Performance Art (Denver Art Museum, 2010) and Manifestations: New Native Art Criticism (Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, 2012). Evans is also a practicing artist, primarily working in painting and drawing.