National Museum of the American Indian announces Before and after the Horizon: Anishinaabe Artists of the Great Lakes

. July 13, 2013

A survey of more than 100 works by Native artists from the Great Lakes region will be on view at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in New York, beginning Saturday, Aug. 3. “Before and after the Horizon: Anishinaabe Artists of the Great Lakes” will explore the ways many generations have expressed their relationships with their Anishinaabe homeland. Works from prehistory to the present day will reference Anishnaabe stories, histories and experiences, providing visitors with dynamic indigenous perspectives from the peoples of the Ojibwe (Chippewa), Odawa (Ottawa) and Potawatomi nations.

Wally Dion (Saulteaux), b. 1976 Thunderbird, 2008 Circuit boards, plywood, acrylic paint Collection of the MacKenzie Art Gallery, purchased with the financial support of the Canada Council for Art Acquisition Assistance Program

Wally Dion (Saulteaux), b. 1976 Thunderbird, 2008 Circuit boards, plywood, acrylic paint Collection of the MacKenzie Art Gallery, purchased with the financial support of the Canada Council for Art Acquisition Assistance Program


The museum is located in the historic U.S. Custom House at One Bowling Green in lower Manhattan. The exhibition is divided into six areas of focus that have been important to Anishinaabe people: place, the traditional Anishinaabe home in the Great Lakes region; cosmos, traditional spirituality and the Anishinaabe conception of their place in the universe; church, Anishinaabe relations with Christianity; contested place, the Great Lakes region as a point of contact and engagement between Anishinaabe people and the outside world; cottager colonialism, Anishinaabe relations with early and ongoing vacation visitors to the Great Lakes region; and many worlds, the multiple cultural influences characteristic of the Anishinaabe experience today.

People have lived in the Great Lakes region for more than 10,000 years, even when its present terrain was forming in the wake of thousands of years of Ice Age glaciation. The first section of the exhibition is dedicated to the continuity of these communities and will detail the Anishinaabe relationship to Great Lakes natural features, places and resident beings. The exhibition then leads visitors to a section that examines the Great Lakes as a “contested space,” where the conflicting ideologies and objectives of the Anishinaabe and newcomers played out in treaties, political conflict, land cessions and consequent cultural marginalization.

The exhibition will showcase contemporary and modern works along with historic, ancestral objects. Among the modern artists are Norval Morrisseau, George Morrison, Blake Debassige and Daphne Odjig, who each in their own way sought visual expression for the spiritual and social dimensions of human relations with the earth. These same sources of inspiration are visible in traditional Anishinaabe arts, such as doodem or clan pictographs on treaty documents, bags embroidered with porcupine quills, painted drums, carved pipes, spoons and bowls. The continuity of Anishinaabe art emphasizes traditional Anishinaabe spiritual perceptions, which are very much part of Anishnaabe identity today.

The museum’s website is www.AmericanIndian.si.edu

Category: Fine Art

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