Off the Map: Landscape in the Native Imagination

March 3, 2007–September 3, 2007
New York, NY

For Native people, land has multiple meanings. It is home, culture and identity, but it also represents violence, isolation and loss. The artists in Off the Map reinvent and examine landscape from this complex perspective, creating work that exists outside of Western landscape traditions. Their work also defies common expectations of Native American art in both its form and content.

Jeffrey Gibson's (Mississippi Band Choctaw/Cherokee) paintings utilize intensely colored marks, glossy and transparent pours, and pigmented silicone to depict an imaginary and fantastic environment. Carlos Jacanamijoy (Inga) is inspired by both the light and sounds of Colombia's tropical rainforest and the urban cityscape of his Brooklyn home in the creation of his dramatic interior landscapes. James Lavadour's (Walla Walla) elegant depictions of the landscape are rooted in his intimate relationship to the land near his home on the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Oregon. Erica Lord (Inuit/Athabascan), an emerging artist known for work that addresses themes of race, ethnicity and gender as well as memory and home, challenges the audience's perceptions of reality and place. Emmi Whitehorse's (Navajo) multilayered abstract work explores memory and land and draws upon language and symbolism.

The artists in Off the Map use the landscape as both muse and subject, but none seek to represent a specific place located in a guidebook or on a map. Their work embodies the longing and emotion, connection to and detachment from the land that are universal to contemporary Native experience.