For a Love of His People: The Photography of Horace Poolaw
August 09, 2014–February 15, 2015
New York, NY
Horace Poolaw (Kiowa, 1906–84) was born during a time of great change for his people—one year before Oklahoma statehood and six years after the U.S. government approved an allotment policy that ended the reservation period. A rare American Indian photographer who documented Indian subjects, he began making a visual history in the mid-1920s and continued for the next 50 years.
Poolaw photographed his friends and family and events important to them—weddings, funerals, parades, fishing, driving cars, going on dates, going to war, playing baseball. When he sold his photos at fairs and community events, he often stamped the reverse: “A Poolaw Photo, Pictures by an Indian, Horace M. Poolaw, Anadarko, Okla.” Not simply by “an Indian,” but by a Kiowa man strongly rooted in his multi-tribal community, Poolaw’s work celebrates his subjects’ place in American life and preserves an insider’s perspective on a world few outsiders are familiar with—the Native America of the Southern Plains during the mid-20th century.
Organized around the central theme of Poolaw as a man of his community and time, For a Love of His People is based on the Poolaw Photography Project, a research initiative established by Poolaw’s daughter Linda in 1989 at Stanford University and carried on by Native scholars Nancy Marie Mithlo (Chiricahua Apache) and Tom Jones (Ho-Chunk) of the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
Robert Davidson: Abstract Impulse
April 12, 2014–September 14, 2014
New York, NY
Organized by the NMAI and the Seattle Art Museum, this is the first major U.S. exhibition of works by Haida artist Robert Davidson, a pivotal figure in the Northwest Coast Native art renaissance since 1969, when he erected the first totem pole in his ancestral Massett village since the 1880s. For more than 40 years, Davidson has mastered Haida art traditions by studying the great works of his great-grandfather Charles Edenshaw and others. More recently, Davidson has interjected his own interpretation of the old forms with forays into abstraction, explored in boldly minimalistic easel paintings, graphic works, and sculpture, where images are pared to essential lines, elemental shapes, and strong colors. Robert Davidson: Abstract Impulse features 45 paintings, sculptures, and prints created since 2005, as well as key images from earlier in the artist’s career that show Davidson’s evolution toward an elemental language of form.
Robert Davidson: Abstract Impulse is organized by the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) in collaboration with the NMAI–NY. Lead Grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. Major support provided by The MacRae Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support provided by The Hugh and Jane Ferguson Foundation, Port Madison Enterprises, Eugene V. and Clare Thaw Charitable Trust, and Contributors to SAM’s Annual Fund.
Circle of Dance
October 06, 2012–October 08, 2017
New York, NY
Circle of Dance is a five-year exhibition that presents Native dance as a vibrant, meaningful, and diverse form of cultural expression. Featuring ten social and ceremonial dances from throughout the Americas, the exhibition illuminates the significance of each dance and highlights the unique characteristics of its movements and music.
Music and dance have always been essential to the spiritual, cultural, and social lives of Native peoples. Unique forms of ritual, ceremonial, and social dancing remain a vital part of contemporary community life. Everywhere dance is found, it is accompanied by distinctive Native musical styles. Rich music and dance traditions create strong ties that bind American Indian communities to all living things, to the earth, spirit world, and—when people have deep ancestral claims to their dances—to the past.
Presenting a wide range of movement styles, Circle of Dance illustrates the dynamic dances through which Native peoples maintain old ways and introduce new ones, while expressing and celebrating their strongly felt tribal, village, clan, social, and individual identities.
Infinity of Nations: Art and History in the Collections of the National Museum of the American Indian
New York, NY
This spectacular, permanent exhibition of some 700 works of Native art from throughout North, Central, and South America demonstrates the breadth of the museum's renowned collection and highlights the historic importance of many of these iconic objects.
Chosen to illustrate the geographic and chronological scope of the museum's collection, Infinity of Nations opens with a display of headdresses. Signifying the sovereignty of Native nations, these works include a magnificent Kayapó krok-krok-ti, a macaw-and-heron-feather ceremonial headdress.
Focal-point objects, representing each region, include an Apsáalooke (Crow) robe illustrated with warriors' exploits; a detailed Mayan limestone bas relief depicting a ball player; an elaborately beaded Inuit tuilli, or woman's inner parka, made for the mother of a newborn baby; a Mapuche kultrung, or hand drum, depicting the cosmos; a carved and painted chief's headdress, depicting a killer whale with a raven emerging from its back, created and worn by Willie Seaweed (Kwakwaka'wakw); an anthropomorphic Shipibo joni chomo, or water vessel from Peru; a Chumash basket decorated with a Spanish-coin motif; an ancient mortar from Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon, N.M.; a gourd carved with a detailed picture of the Battle of Arica by Mariano Flores Kananga (Quechua); and an early Anishinaabe man's outfit complete with headdress, leggings, shirt, sash, and jewelry. The exhibition concludes with works by Native artists including Allan Houser (Warm Springs Chiricahua Apache) and Rick Bartow (Mad River Wiyot).