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News Release: Nationally renowned Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship in the spotlight

New exhibition “Blurring the Line” featuring five Native artists is open Nov. 16-Feb. 2 at Eiteljorg Museum

Rita Letendre (Abenaki)
Sunburst, 1971
Oil on canvas
31 x 40 inches
Museum Purchase: Eiteljorg Fellowship

INDIANAPOLIS – 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.

From Nov. 16 to Feb. 2, the Blurring the Line exhibition at the Eiteljorg 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 is creating a “Miami watersong” piece for the exhibition
  • Demian DinéYazhí (Diné), a multidisciplinary artist from Portland, Oregon, who has been awarded several grants or fellowships and 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. In addition, the museum purchases $115,000 of the Fellows’ work for its permanent collection.

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

“The Eiteljorg Museum has an incredible collection of Native American and Western art, but what really sets it apart from other institutions is the longstanding institutional commitment to Native American contemporary art,” Eiteljorg Vice President and Chief Curatorial Officer Elisa Phelps said. “There are important collections of contemporary Native art in other museums, but the relationships, publications, exhibitions and collection resources that have been developed through the biennial Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship are unparalleled,” she added.

“Native contemporary art cannot be judged by whether there is a recognizably Native design or form integrated into the art,” Eiteljorg curator of contemporary art Jennifer Complo McNutt said. “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)
Untitled (Black and Gold), 2019
Acrylic, bugle beads, thread and synthetic sinew on canvas
48 x 48 inches
Museum Purchase: Eiteljorg Fellowship

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 has presented approximately $1.25 million to 55 artists and purchased more than 180 of their works. The Lilly Endowment Inc. and Efroymson Family Fund provide generous support for the Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship.

Matthew Kirk (Navajo)
To Be So Lucky, 2017
Mixed media on paper
38 x 50 inches
Museum Purchase: Eiteljorg Fellowship

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

Blurring the Line begins with a special welcoming celebration at the museum for the Eiteljorg Fellows on Friday evening, Nov. 15, followed by a public exhibition opening and gallery tour on Saturday, Nov. 16. A moderated conversation with the five Fellows is Nov. 16. For reservations to the special events, visit or contact Cassandra Sanborn at or 317.275.1360.

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


About the Eiteljorg Museum
Celebrating 30 years of telling amazing stories in 2019, 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 was named one of the USA Today Readers’ Choice 10 Best Indiana Attractions.



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