Museum Info

Monday – Saturday:
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Noon – 5 p.m.

500 W. Washington St.
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Blurring the Line: Nationally renowned Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship returns to the spotlight

Rita Letendre (Abenaki)

Sunburst, 1971
Oil on canvas
31 x 40 inches
Museum Purchase: Eiteljorg Fellowship

As part of the Eiteljorg Museum’s ongoing commitment to contemporary Native American art, five artists who are this year’s Eiteljorg Fellows will be celebrated through a new exhibition: Blurring the Line: The Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship 2019.

“The line that separates contemporary Native art from customary Native art does not exist,” Eiteljorg curator of contemporary art Jennifer Complo McNutt said. “The work of contemporary Native artists today is a continuum of Native expression. It does not solely exist in the Native world or mainstream art community.”

Matthew Alan Kirk (Navajo)

To Be So Lucky, 2017
Mixed media on paper
38 x 50 inches
Museum Purchase: Eiteljorg Fellowship

From Nov. 16 to Feb. 2, the Blurring the Line exhibition will highlight paintings, drawings, mixed media and installations by the 2019 Fellowship artists:

  • Rita Letendre (Abenaki), a renowned abstract painter from Toronto, originally from southern Quebec, whose works are in Canadian and American museums and who is the invited artist this round
  • Hannah Claus (Bay of Quinte Mohawk), an installation artist in Montreal who creates suspended sculptures and has created a “Miami watersong” piece for this exhibition
  • Demian DinéYazhí (Diné), a multidisciplinary artist from Portland, Oregon, who has been awarded several grants and fellowships and who creates installations, textile pieces and video
  • Matthew Alan Kirk (Navajo), a painter based in Queens, N.Y., whose geometric compositions resemble road maps, Navajo rugs and urban landscapes
  • Dyani White Hawk (Sičáŋğu Lakota), of Minneapolis, who creates intricate mixed-media paintings that incorporate, among other elements, porcupine quills and beads with painted geometric patterns.

Each Eiteljorg Fellow receives a $25,000 unrestricted award and their work is part of the exhibition, catalogue and video documentation. The museum also purchases $115,000 in works of the Fellows for its permanent collection.

“Native contemporary art cannot be judged by whether there is a recognizably Native design, or form, integrated into the art,” Complo McNutt added. “Native art connects to individual artists, it rejects stereotypes; it reflects today and like all art, has changed over time. It not only blurs the line, it challenges the narrow definitions assigned to contemporary Native art and overcomes them.”

Dyani White Hawk (Sičáŋğu Lakota)

Carry I, 2019
Buckskin, synthetic sinew, antique glass beads, brass sequins, canvas, acrylic, dyed feathers, approx. 110 x 15 inches
Loan courtesy of the artist

The Eiteljorg Museum is home to one of the world’s best collections of contemporary Native art, and its Fellowship program has provided an insightful examination of contemporary Native art and impacted a broader art community.

Every other year since 1999, the Eiteljorg has awarded Fellowships to five contemporary Native or First Nations artists, a different class each round. In that time the Eiteljorg Fellowship awarded approximately $1.25 million to 55 artists and purchased more than 180 works. The Lilly Endowment Inc. and the Efroymson Family Fund, a Central Indiana Community Foundation Fund, provide generous support for the Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship.

Blurring the Line: The Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship 2019 is curated by Jennifer Complo McNutt and Dorene Red Cloud, assistant curator of Native American art. For more information, visit

Demian DinéYazhí (Diné)

Trust Fall (Pine Ridge), 2012
Loan courtesy of the artist

Exhibit open to the public: Nov. 16, 2019-Feb. 2, 2020, included with general museum admission.
Special opening weekend events:

  • Friday Nov. 15
    5-7 p.m.: Welcoming celebration for Eiteljorg Fellows; reservations: $50.
    7:30-10 p.m.: After-party with DJ, dancing and art-making; reservations: $25 members, $35 non-members, or included with admission to 5 p.m. event.
  • Saturday Nov. 16
    9 a.m.: Gallery tour of the Blurring the Line exhibition.
    10:30 a.m.-noon: Moderated conversation with Fellowship artists.
    The Nov. 16 events are included with regular admission, but pre-registration is required. Details at

For reservations to special events, contact Cassandra Sanborn at 317.275.1360 or

Learn more and receive updates at:


Presented by The Lilly Endowment Inc.

Sponsored by the Efroymson Family Fund, a fund of the Central Indiana Community Foundation

Hannah Claus (Bay of Quinte Mohawk)

water song: peemitanaahkwahki sakaahkweelo, 2019
Digital imagery printed on acetate film (Durachrome UV ink on Jetview film), thread (Gütermann Scala 60), PVA glue
240 x 168 x 15 inches
Museum Commission: Eiteljorg Fellowship


If you are intrigued by the art works of the 2019 Eiteljorg Fellows, make the experience last by taking home the full-color Blurring the Line art catalogue, featuring essays providing an in-depth study of the five artists. The book can be purchased for $30 in the Frank and Katrina Basile Museum Store. Also, shop for art catalogues from past museum exhibitions such as Native Art Now! and Quest for the West®.  Shop online:


This article originally appeared in the October 2019 issue of Storyteller magazine.