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National Museum of the American Indian Presents Vantage Point: The Contemporary Native Art Collection

This major new exhibition highlights the museum’s young but rich collection of contemporary Native American art. “Vantage Point” features significant works by 25 established and emerging artists from across the United States and Canada and from Colombia, in media ranging from paintings, drawings, photography and sculpture to video projection and mixed-media installation. These provocative, insightful and moving works explore memory, history, the significance of place for Native communities and the continuing relevance of cultural traditions. The exhibition comes on the heels of the critically acclaimed “Brian Jungen: Strange Comfort.” It will remain on view through Aug. 7, 2011.

“Many people are still surprised to find Native American artists working in contemporary media and addressing very contemporary issues,” said Kevin Gover (Pawnee), director of the museum.

“The artists in this exhibition challenge notions of Native American art and confront people’s perspectives on history, culture and current events.”

“The exhibition demonstrates the great range of smart, challenging and moving work that is being done by Native artists today,” said Rebecca Head Trautmann, curator of the exhibition. Trautmann has served as the museum’s curatorial researcher working with the modern and contemporary art collection and exhibitions since 2003. She is an art historian who did her graduate work at the University of New Mexico, with a focus on modern and contemporary Native American art.

“Vantage Point” is organized around four broad themes—Personal Memory and Identity;

History and the Contemporary Urban Experience; Cultural Memory and Persistence; and Landscape and Place—which serve to introduce visitors to some of the key and frequently overlapping issues the works examine.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian has been exhibiting modern and contemporary Native art since the opening of the George Gustav Heye Center in Lower Manhattan in 1994. The museum has also has showcased the work of Native American artists in its main museum in Washington, D.C., including “Native Modernism: The Art of George Morrison and Allan Houser” (2004), “Fritz Scholder: Indian/Not Indian” (2008) and “Brian Jungen: Strange Comfort” (2009).

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