30 Oct Fascinating documentary about contemporary Native art airs on public TV across the nation
“What I want people to take away from my work is a sense of humanity. I want people to recognize that Native people are human beings and our history is everybody’s history.”
Wendy Red Star (Crow, b. 1981)
“I would hope that my work could transcend the ethnic category, but at the same time it’s the thing that gives it the power.”
Preston Singletary (Tlingit, b. 1963)
INDIANAPOLIS — Native Art Now!, an enlightening, thought-provoking documentary film that examines the evolution of contemporary Native art over the past 25 years, is airing on multiple public broadcasting stations across the nation. Approaching Native American Heritage Month, the documentary to date has aired, or is scheduled to air, 181 times on 113 channels in 59 markets.
Presenting personal perspectives from internationally acclaimed contemporary Native artists, Native Art Now! is a collaboration of WFYI Public Television in Indianapolis and the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, home to one of the nation’s best collections of contemporary Native art. The film contains compelling visuals of the intriguing styles and mediums of contemporary Native art, along with thought-provoking interviews with the artists themselves. Watching it will shatter perceptions that Native American art is limited or narrow: Art by today’s Native artists is vibrant, dynamic and beautiful.
What distinguishes contemporary Native art from traditional contemporary art? “About 15,000 years,” explains Jennifer Complo McNutt, curator of contemporary art at the Eiteljorg. “Contemporary Native artists have knowledge about their ancestors, traditions and lives that spans thousands of years. That changes the way you see the world.”
Every other year since 1999, the Eiteljorg Museum’s nationally renowned Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship has recognized leading Indigenous artists in the United States and Canada. Each round, the fellowship has offered grants to a new group of five contemporary Native artists in order to support their art and artistic endeavors. A retrospective exhibition, also called Native Art Now!, was exhibited at the museum earlier this year. In addition to the art exhibition and documentary film, the Native Art Now!project also included a major book (still available through the Eiteljorg Museum) and a symposium of artists last year.
“Contemporary Native art challenges conventional notions that Native American art is limited to particular styles or materials or focused on particular eras,” Eiteljorg President and CEO John Vanausdall said. “Instead, they reveal how thought-provoking contemporary art can be and how relevant it is to issues of today.”
To view a trailer of the Native Art Now! documentary, click on this link:
The film was produced by WFYI Public Media in partnership with the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art. It was made possible with the generous support of the Lilly Endowment, Inc. Additional funding is provided by The Efroymson Family Fund, a fund of Central Indiana Community Foundation. Check your local PBS station’s website for the air dates and times of the local broadcast of the Native Art Now! documentary.
About the Eiteljorg:
The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in White River State Park in downtown Indianapolis seeks to inspire an appreciation and understanding of the art, history and cultures of the American West and the Indigenous peoples of North America. Located on the Central Canal at 500 West Washington St., the Eiteljorg Museum recently was named one of the USA Today Readers’ Choice 10 Best Indiana Attractions. Visit the museum website at www.eiteljorg.org.
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