A Sense of Beauty: Showcasing the Power and Beauty in Native Art

Outstanding Native artworks presented in compelling installations
By Bryan Corbin, Storyteller magazine editor

Susan Point (Musqueam Indian Band, born 1952)
Arrival, 1996
Carved glass, wood
Edition 14/15
Museum purchase from New Art of the West 7 with funds provided by Mike and Juanita Eagle

A new exhibition at the Eiteljorg Museum will premiere many recently acquired Native American artworks that rarely or never have been on exhibit. Visitors will enjoy a “tree” of jewelry, a “waterfall” of baskets and a “whirlwind” of weavings. These extraordinary installations of objects will emphasize the aesthetic beauty of the pieces and engage the senses.

This exceptional exhibit, A Sense of Beauty: Showcasing the Power and Beauty in Native Art, opens March 9 at the Eiteljorg and will highlight contemporary and customary (or “traditional”) Native artworks collected during the 30 years the museum has been in existence.

“We have opened the museum vault and brought out some stunning objects that convey the boundless creativity and talent of Native American artists, including living artists and those who have passed on, representing Indigenous cultures from across North America,” Eiteljorg President and CEO John Vanausdall said. “This thought-provoking exhibition will delight and inspire museum visitors.”

Vernon Haskie (Navajo, born 1968)
Bracelet, 2007
Silver, coral
Gift of Helen Cox Kersting

Intricate weavings, ceramic art, delicate jewelry, extraordinary baskets, glass art, prints and eye-catching installations will fill the museum’s main floor special exhibition gallery during A Sense of Beauty: Showcasing the Power and Beauty in Native Art. The Native artists represented include past recipients of the Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship, past award-winners from the Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival, and others whose works the museum has acquired or collectors have donated. Reflecting many cultures, regions and artistic styles, the outstanding pieces underscore the museum’s serious interest in collecting.

Part of the fun for visitors will be the compelling ways the artworks are presented. Instead of seeing works under glass cases, visitors will enjoy a “waterfall” of baskets suspended as they tumble down a wall, a “river” of pottery meandering along the gallery, a “tree” of handmade jewelry and a “whirlwind” of floating, twirling weavings, fixed in mid-air. Kiosks with images and captions will identify the pieces and artists, while text panels will focus on the subject of art collecting.

Rowan Harrison (Navajo/Pueblo of Isleta, born 1969)
Vessel, undated
Gift of Helen Cox Kersting

Along one wall will be an enormous 40-foot multicolor geometric print, composed of more than 200 individual prints, Okanagan IV, by 2001 Eiteljorg Fellow Joe Feddersen (Colville Confederated Tribes.)

Continuing through Aug. 4, A Sense of Beauty: Showcasing the Power and Beauty in Native Art will celebrate the tremendous inventiveness of Native artistic expression and the joy of collecting art. The exhibition is curated by Jennifer Complo McNutt, the curator of contemporary art; Scott Shoemaker, Ph.D., the Thomas G. and Susan C. Hoback curator of Native American art, history, and culture; and Dorene Red Cloud, assistant curator of Native American art. The exhibit’s innovative design was created by Steve Sipe, director of exhibition and graphic design.

Dan Viets Lomahaftewa (Hopi/Choctaw, 1951-2005)
Spring Arrival, 1994
Collagraph on paper
Gift: Courtesy of Gail C. Kirchner. Dedicated with love and joy to the donor’s family: Carroll and Brett Davis, Amy, John and Mary Nell Kirchner

The theme of beauty will serve as inspiration for a crowd-created art project in the museum’s Eagle Commons, where visitors can draw their own pages to add to a separate, large community art installation.



A Sense of Beauty:
Showcasing the Power and Beauty in Native Art
Special Exhibition Gallery
Eiteljorg Museum


Note: This article originally appeared in the February 2019 issue of Storyteller magazine.

Museum Info

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500 W. Washington St.
Indianapolis, IN 46204

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