To Take Shape and Meaning: Form and Design in Contemporary American Indian Art

March 2–July 28, 2024
East Building, Level B, Meymandi Exhibition Gallery

Organized by guest curator Nancy Strickland Fields (Lumbee), director/curator of the Museum of the Southeast American Indian at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, the upcoming exhibition To Take Shape and Meaning: Form and Design in Contemporary American Indian Art features 3-D works by over 70 Indigenous artists from throughout the United States and Canada, including eight from North Carolina.

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Form and design are two of the most ancient elements in American Indian art. Artists use these to achieve culturally unique characteristics in ceramics, weaving, beadwork, basketry, and other media that convey meaning and function. For thousands of years, Native artists have manipulated their materials into fantastic expressions of art. The contemporary artists featured in the show are among the most acclaimed in their genres and are credited with pushing their art forms in ways that retain meaning and continue to evolve culture.

Artists in the exhibition include Marcus Amerman (Choctaw), Jackie Larson Bread (Blackfeet), Orlando Dugi (Navajo), Anita Fields (Osage), Jeffrey Gibson (Mississippi Choctaw), Dorothy Grant (Haida), Raven Halfmoon (Caddo), Allan Houser (Fort Sill Apache), Kenneth Johnson (Muscogee/Seminole), Gloria Tara Lowery (Lumbee), Senora Lynch (Haliwa-Saponi), Jamie Okuma (Luiseño/Shoshone e-Bannock/Wailaki/Okinawan), Virgil Ortiz (Cochiti Pueblo), Rose B. Simpson (Santa Clara Pueblo), Preston Singletary (Tlingit), Roxanne Swentzell (Santa Clara Pueblo), Marie Watt (Seneca), Margaret Roach Wheeler (Chickasaw/Choctaw), and many others.

To Take Shape and Meaning brings together a wide range of Indigenous world views, ideas, experiences, traditions, cultures, and media, and emphasizes the continuity and evolution of Native arts, both collective and individual expressions of Native America. This project also supports the NCMA’s ongoing goal of presenting expansive and inclusive art historical narratives in all aspects of the Museum, and of bringing in contemporary artists whose works focus on themes that are particularly relevant to the concerns of the current moment.

Organized by the North Carolina Museum of Art. This exhibition is made possible, in part, by the Hartfield Foundation; Libby and Lee Buck; the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources; the North Carolina Museum of Art Foundation, Inc.; and the William R. Kenan Jr. Endowment for Educational Exhibitions. Research for this exhibition was made possible by Ann and Jim Goodnight/The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fund for Curatorial and Conservation Research and Travel.

Virgil Ortiz, Convergence, Defenders Descend from Portal to Pueblo, 2023, Cochiti red clay, white clay slip, red clay slip, and black pigment (wild spinach plant), H. 28 1/2 × W. 19 × D. 18 in., Gift of Alan and Benjamin King, Jeffrey Childers and Onay Cruz Gutierrez, Joyce Fitzpatrick and Jay Stewart, Valerie Hillings and B.J. Scheessele, Marjorie Hodges and Carlton Midyette, Stefanie and Douglas Kahn, Bonnie and John Medinger, Mindy and Guy Solie, Cathy and Jim Stuart, Libby and Lee Buck, Liza and Lee Roberts.

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