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News Release: Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship exhibition redefines contemporary Native art

Works of five Native artists who are Fellows featured in “UNSETTLE/Converge,” Nov. 11-Feb. 25


Composite image of the five Eiteljorg Fellows.

Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023

INDIANAPOLIS — Visitors will experience cutting-edge works of contemporary Native art in the new exhibition UNSETTLE/Converge, open at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art from Nov. 11 to Feb. 25. Five groundbreaking Native artists from the U.S. and Canada were chosen for the prestigious 2023 Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship. As part of the Fellowship initiative, UNSETTLE/Converge features examples of the Fellows’ art, including innovative beadwork, assemblage, works on paper, photography and sculpture. During the exhibition’s opening weekend, there will be opportunities for the public to meet the Fellowship artists. A special exhibition opening and artist celebration will kick off the Fellowship on Friday, Nov. 10.

As one of the leading institutions internationally presenting and supporting contemporary Native art, the Eiteljorg Museum has awarded a combined quarter of a million dollars to this year’s five Fellows. It also has purchased more than $100,000 of their artworks to add to its permanent collections.

The 2023 Fellows are an impressive group, and each has made an impact on the contemporary art world:


Ruth Cuthand (Plains Cree / Scottish / Irish)

Anxiety, 2022
Glass beads, thread, backing
Museum Purchase from the Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship

  • The well-established career of invited artist Ruth Cuthand (Plains Cree) of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, includes works in printmaking, painting, drawing, photography and beadwork. Confronting the settler-colonial roots of Canada, her art pays homage to the resiliency of Indigenous communities. Cuthand’s recent body of work includes beaded depictions of various mental health conditions — as shown by brain scans — that embody the intergenerational trauma experienced by many First Nations communities.


Natalie Ball (Klamath Tribes [Klamath / Modoc])

Sheriff’s Star, 2022
Neon glass, textiles, Billy Jack hat, ribbon, paint, deer hide
Loan from Gochman Family Collection
Image courtesy of the artist and Bortolami Gallery, New York
Photographer: Guang Xu

  • Natalie Ball (Klamath Tribes [Klamath / Modoc]) of Chiloquin, Oregon, is an elected official: a member of the Klamath Tribal Council. Her artistic practice draws upon her Native and African American heritage to create mixed-media assemblages that include quilt patterns, unconventional objects and natural materials to investigate definitions of Native identity.

Sean Chandler (Aaniiih [Gros Ventre])
Son of St. Aloysius, 2023
Oil, oil paint stick, charcoal
Museum Purchase from the Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship

  • Sean Chandler (Aaniiih [Gros Ventre]) of Harlem, Montana, creates personal narrative mixed-media works on unstretched canvas about the subjects of U.S. settler colonialism and his experiences of growing up in eastern Montana. His career as an artist coincides with his academic roles as an educator and community college administrator: Chandler serves as president of Aaniiih Nakoda College on the Fort Belknap Agency in Montana.


Mercedes Dorame (Gabrielino Tongva)

I Will Come from the Ocean— Mooomvene Kimaaro (from the Everywhere is West series), 2022
Inkjet print from 120mm film
Museum Purchase from the Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship

  • Mercedes Dorame (Gabrielino Tongva) of Altadena, California, uses installation and photography to examine and revitalize her family’s connection to their ancestral land, Los Angeles. Utilizing natural materials, including fibers, shells or flora, her work in that region explores the roles of Gabrielino culture and ceremony, past and present.


Raven Halfmoon (Caddo Nation / Choctaw / Delaware)

Four Doors of Prayer, 2022, clay, glaze
Museum Purchase from the Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship

  • Raven Halfmoon (Caddo Nation / Choctaw / Delaware) of Norman, Oklahoma, continues her tribe’s rich history with ceramics by creating large-scale stoneware sculptures that focus on Caddo culture and history, as well as her experience as a 21st century Native woman.

Selected last year for the 2023 Fellowship, these five artists join a prestigious community of Eiteljorg Fellows from 11 previous rounds. Cumulatively, the works by past Fellows in the museum’s collections now comprise one of the best collections of contemporary Native art anywhere.

“Native art is having a moment; before many others, the Eiteljorg has recognized and celebrated contemporary Native art since 1999. While the rest of the world has had to play catch-up, the Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship continues to lead in presentation and admiration for contemporary Native art,” said Curator of Native Art Dorene Red Cloud (Oglala Lakota), who is curating the Fellowship.

Every other year since 1999, the Eiteljorg Fellowship has helped bring contemporary Native art to the forefront, amplifying the voices of Native artists. This latest round of the Fellowship now includes a $50,000 unrestricted grant to each artist — double the award of previous years. Each round, the museum purchases work from each artist, publishes an exhibit catalog, creates an exhibition and hosts opportunities for the Fellows to engage with the broader public.

Building on the titles and themes of the two previous Fellowship rounds, Blurring the Line in 2019 and Shifting Boundaries in 2021, the 2023 round is titled UNSETTLE/Converge to convey how the parameters defining contemporary Native art have changed. By dismantling settler-colonial definitions, contemporary Native art is now being presented through Indigenous perspectives, putting Native voices and visions at the forefront.

In addition to the experiencing the exhibition, Eiteljorg Museum guests can learn more about the current and past Fellows on the website, contemporaryartfellowship.eiteljorg.org, and from the exhibit catalog featuring scholarly essays about each artist. The full-color UNSETTLE/Converge catalog is available for $30 from the Frank and Katrina Basile Museum Store.

For the opening weekend of UNSETTLE/Converge, a series of special public events is planned:

Thursday Nov. 9
3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. at Basile Auditorium, IUPUI: Public talk by 2023 Invited Fellow Ruth Cuthand (Plains Cree). This event is free. A reception will follow.

Friday Nov. 10
6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.: The community is invited to an Exhibition Opening and Artist Celebration at the Eiteljorg Museum, featuring an awards ceremony, signature drink, hors d’oeuvres, and DJ Toyacoyah (Numunuu [Comanche]). Reservations: $25, and $15 for students. Visit eiteljorg.org/events, or purchase tickets at the door.

Saturday Nov. 11
9 a.m.: Members’ Coffee and Conversation at the museum with the 2023 Fellows; register by contacting jhiatt@eiteljorg.com.
10 a.m.: Public tour of the exhibition with the Fellows, followed by a Q-and-A session with the Fellows facilitated by heather ahtone, Ph.D. (Chickasaw Nation / Choctaw), director of curatorial affairs at the First Americans Museum in Oklahoma City. Included with regular admission, the tour and talk are free for museum members.

Continuing at the Eiteljorg Nov. 11, 2023, through Feb. 25, 2024, UNSETTLE/Converge is presented by Lilly Endowment Inc., which has funded the Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship from the start. It also is sponsored by the Efroymson Family Fund (a CICF fund), the Margot L. Eccles Arts & Culture Fund (a CICF fund), Raymond James & Associates in Indiana, the Ann W. King Fund (a fund of the Indianapolis Foundation), the Arthur Jordan Foundation and an anonymous donor.

Various artworks the Eiteljorg has acquired from past Fellows during prior Fellowship rounds are regularly on view at the museum throughout the year. Some are now in Native Art History Is Made Here, continuing through March 3, 2024, others are in the Native galleries exhibition, Expressions of Life: Native Art in North America. These exhibitions and UNSETTLE/Converge are all included with Eiteljorg regular admission.

About the Eiteljorg
A cultural pillar for nearly 35 years in downtown Indianapolis’ scenic White River State Park, the Eiteljorg Museum seeks to inspire an appreciation and understanding of the arts, histories and cultures of the Native peoples of North America and the diverse peoples of the American West by telling amazing stories. Located on the Central Canal at 500 West Washington St., the Eiteljorg is a 501c3 nonprofit organization.

 

The Eiteljorg Museum, front exterior, downtown Indianapolis.
Image courtesy of Jessica Strickland Photography, 2013

Media Contacts
Bryan Corbin
Public Relations Manager
317.275.1315
bcorbin@eiteljorg.com

Bert Beiswanger
Director of Marketing and Communications
317.275.1317
bbeiswanger@eiteljorg.com

Brooke Sullivan
Digital Marketing Manager
317.275.1388
bsullivan@eiteljorg.com

MEDIA COVERAGE
Editor’s Note: Here are links to recent news media coverage about UNSETTLE/Converge: The Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship 2023:

Native American Art magazine, “Native Voices and Visions,” February 2024

Indianapolis Recorder newspaper, “Our moment: Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship challenges traditional notions of Native American art,” Nov. 16, 2023

 

 

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