Landscapes are particularly meaningful subjects for many Native contemporary artists. This reflects both the vital bonds communities feel for their homelands and the disruptive effects of displacement and removal to reservations and cities. In contrast to traditional Western art, in which landscapes are often portrayed as a means of mastering and laying claim to the land, these depictions frequently reveal intimate personal or cultural knowledge and the lived experience of a place.
Artists’ approaches to depicting landscapes are as varied as the land itself. Emmi Whitehorse and Will Wilson, both Navajo, address the significance of water in the desert Southwest in very different ways. Through ethereal abstraction, Whitehorse draws attention to the teeming microscopic life present in a pool of standing water. In sharp contrast, Wilson’s Auto Immune Response—a series of large-scale, digitally collaged panoramic photographs—meditates on environmental and human trauma, especially as caused by uranium mining on Navajo land.