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News Release: Artists chosen for Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship

Five Native American/First Nations artists chosen for Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship 

Fascinating exhibit of contemporary Native art, “Shifting Boundaries” opens Nov. 13, 2021

INDIANAPOLIS – Five Native American and First Nations artists have been selected for the prestigious 2021 Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship. Innovative paintings, prints, mixed media and installations by the artists will be on view in an exhibit called Shifting Boundaries at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art beginning in November 2021. Each Fellowship artist receives a $25,000 unrestricted grant, and the museum expects to purchase more than $100,000 of their artworks to add to its collection of contemporary Native American art, considered one of the best such collections in the world.

Selected by a panel of experts, the five artists chosen for the 2021 round of the Eiteljorg Fellowship are:

Anita Fields, image by Melissa Lukenbaugh

  • Invited artist Anita Fields (Osage), of Stillwater, Oklahoma, who is nationally recognized for her ceramic art and mixed media works. One of her ceramic pieces, Opposites Attract, is currently on view in the exhibition, Powerful Women: Contemporary Art from the Eiteljorg Collection. The Fellowship’s invited artist is selected based on a lifetime of work.

Sonny Assu

  • Sonny Assu (Ligwilda’xw Kwakwaka’wakw) of Campbell River, British Columbia, a painter, printmaker and installation artist whose work appears in museums in Canada.

Catherine Blackburn, image by David Stobbe

  • Catherine Blackburn (English River First Nation Dene) of Thornhill, British Columbia, a multidisciplinary artist, designer and jeweler whose work includes fashion, installation and mixed media.

Athena LaTocha

  • Athena LaTocha (Húŋkpapȟa Lakota / Ojibwe) of Peekskill, N.Y., who creates large landscape paintings.

Steven Yazzie

  • Steven Yazzie (Navajo / Laguna Pueblo) of Denver, a painter who creates video and installations, and has received numerous awards.

“Since 1999, the Eiteljorg Fellowship has helped bring Native contemporary art to the forefront, casting a spotlight on the works of leading Native and First Nations artists. The 2021 class of Eiteljorg Fellows is an exceptional group who have created intriguing works across a variety of disciplines – works that museum guests will want to experience. The Fellows’ work underscores the vitality, imagination and innovation in today’s Indigenous art, and will encourage dialogue about contemporary art,” Eiteljorg President and CEO John Vanausdall said.

“The Eiteljorg is thrilled to have this opportunity to continue to build the museum’s incredible collection of Native American and Western art. The museum’s longstanding commitment to contemporary Native art and artists was unique when the Fellowship program began, and it is exciting to see how the field has grown and evolved over the past 20 years,” Eiteljorg Vice President and Chief Curatorial Officer Elisa Phelps said. “The Fellowship remains unparalleled in its holistic approach, with exhibition, publication, acquisitions, artist grants and opportunities for the public and staff to engage with the artists all part of the program. We are honored to welcome these five accomplished artists as Fellows.”

The five artists for the 2021 round – the 11th round of the Fellowship overall – were recently selected by a panel of three art experts during a virtual adjudication.

Every other year, the Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship provides grants to each new class of five artists to support their continuing efforts in the art field. A public exhibition of the 2021 Fellows’ work, Shifting Boundaries, is scheduled open Nov. 13, 2021 and will continue until Feb. 6, 2022 at the Eiteljorg. On the opening day, plans call for the artists to lead a guided tour of the gallery, followed by a scholarly panel discussion at the museum. Other public programs are planned during the run of the show. Depending on public health requirements in effect at the time, the Eiteljorg will offer virtual options on its Fellowship website, The museum will publish an art catalogue featuring essays about each of the 2021 artists, and will purchase some of their works to add to its own collections.

Over the years, the Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship has received past generous support from Lilly Endowment Inc. and the Efroymson Family Fund (a fund of the Central Indiana Community Foundation), among others. Since 1999, the Eiteljorg Fellowship has added more than 200 representative works by 55 contemporary Native artists to the museum’s permanent collection. As part of these efforts, the Eiteljorg Museum co-produced a 2017 documentary film with WFYI Productions about contemporary Native artists, titled Native Art Now! that aired on PBS TV affiliates, and the museum also published a scholarly art catalogue of the same title in 2017.

About the Eiteljorg Museum
For more than 31 years, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in White River State Park in downtown Indianapolis has inspired an appreciation and understanding of the diverse 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 was named one of the USA Today Readers’ Choice 10 Best Indiana Attractions.


Image Credits
The image of Anita Fields is by Melissa Lukenbaugh.  The image of Catherine Blackburn is by David Stobbe. Images of Athena LaTocha, Sonny Assu and Steven Yazzie are by each of those artists, respectively.

The image of the Eiteljorg Museum is courtesy of Jessica Strickland Photography, 2013.


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