The Land Carries Our Ancestors: Contemporary Art by Native Americans

Steven Yazzie (Diné/Pueblo of Laguna, New Mexico/European descent), "Orchestrating a Blooming Desert," 2003, Oil on canvas, Collection of Christy Vezolles. © 2003 Steven J. Yazzie. All rights reserved. Courtesy of the Heard Museum, photo by Craig Smith
 Steven Yazzie (Diné/Pueblo of Laguna, New Mexico/European descent), "Orchestrating a Blooming Desert," 2003, Oil on canvas, Collection of Christy Vezolles. © 2003 Steven J. Yazzie. All rights reserved. Courtesy of the Heard Museum, photo by Craig Smith,

ABOUT THE EXHIBITION

The Land Carries Our Ancestors: Contemporary Art by Native Americans

Curated by artist, educator, editor, activist, and writer Jaune Quick-to-See Smith (Citizen of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Nation), The Land Carries Our Ancestors: Contemporary Art by Native Americans highlights artworks by nearly 50 living Native artists that powerfully visualize Indigenous culture and knowledge of the land. Brought together by Smith, this multigenerational, diverse group of artists works across the United States and spans a range of practices, including weaving, beadwork, sculpture, painting, drawing, photography, performance, and video. Their means of making reflects the diversity of Native expression according to individual, regional, and cultural identities. At the same time, these works share a worldview informed by a reverence and concern for the land. 

The Land Carries Our Ancestors is organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., where it was on view from September 24, 2023, through January 15, 2024. It was the first exhibition of Native art presented at the National Gallery of Art in 30 years and the first exhibition of contemporary Native art in 70 years. It will be on view at the New Britain Museum of American Art from April 19 through September 12, 2024. 

The exhibition will be accompanied by a range of programs and events, to be announced at a later date. A related book published by the National Gallery in association with Princeton University Press features each artist; a poem by Joy Harjo (Muscogee [Creek] Nation), 23rd US poet laureate; an essay by heather ahtone (Choctaw/Chickasaw Nation), director of curatorial affairs at the First Americans Museum; an essay by Jaune Quick-to-See Smith; and an essay on the art in the exhibition by Shana Bushyhead Condill (Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians), executive director of the Museum of the Cherokee People. 

ABOUT JAUNE QUICK-TO-SEE SMITH: 

Jaune Quick-to-See Smith is a citizen of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Nation of Montana. She grew up on several other reservations in the Pacific Northwest and always returned to her relations on the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Reservation in Montana. She holds a BA in art education from Framingham State College (now Framingham State University) in Massachusetts and an MA in visual arts from the University of New Mexico. In addition, Smith has been awarded honorary doctorates from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Massachusetts College of Art, and the University of New Mexico for her work and outreach to a wide spectrum of audiences. Smith’s roles as artist, teacher, curator, and activist have resulted in hundreds of exhibitions over the course of 50 years, featuring both her work and that of other artists across the United States and in Europe. 

A prolific artist, Smith makes work that includes imagery and objects from everyday life, past and present, and invites close reading to challenge received notions and cultural signs referencing Native Americans.

 

Featured Press

A new look at contemporary Native American art
Phil Hall, Westfair Business Journal, January 18, 2024

Sponsors:

The Land Carries Our Ancestors: Contemporary Art by Native Americans is organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

In New Britain, this exhibition is made possible by The Edward C. & Ann T. Roberts Foundation. Generous funding has been provided by The Aeroflex Foundation, The Bristle Cone Pine Foundation, and the Bailey Family Fund for Special Exhibitions.

Additional support provided by Claudia I. Thesing, Dr. Timothy P. McLaughlin & Dr. Marian Kellner, and Evan R. Cowles & Brie P. Quinby.