Six Native Artists and Their Works Receive Major Recognition
November 15, 2021
For decades, the artistic endeavors of Native Americans and other indigeneous groups were rarely acknowledged as fine art. Native art was displayed separately and in isolation from Western or American art, often curated as anthropological artifact and not as contemporary, living expression. In recent years, well-meaning exhibitions at such prestigious venues as New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago have reckoned with that historical track record. Still, the shows couldn’t escape criticism; the exhibitions lacked the critical involvement of indigenous scholars, curators and advisors.
Last week, the Smithsonian American Art Museum announced that its upcoming 10th installment of the Renwick Gallery Invitational, which opens in May 2023, will focus entirely on six indigenous artists and will be curated by Lara M. Evans (Cherokee Nation), director of the Research Center for Contemporary Native Arts at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. The exhibition strategically places “Native artists as part of the fabric of American art,” says Evans, who also served on the exhibition’s panel of jurors—all of whom are deeply familiar with contemporary Native American and Alaska Native crafts people.