Jeremy Frey (Passamaquoddy). Aura. 2023. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Charlotte B. Filbert Bequest Fund. BMA 2023.239
Jeremy Frey (Passamaquoddy). Aura. 2023. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Charlotte B. Filbert Bequest Fund. BMA 2023.239
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Finding Home, Enduring Buffalo, and Illustrating Agency demonstrate a range of Native artist responses to collective experiences

BALTIMORE, MD (April 8, 2024)—The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) presents three thematic exhibitions as part of its Preoccupied: Indigenizing the Museum initiative, which significantly enhances the presence of Native voices, experiences, and works across the museum. From May 12 through December 1, 2024, the BMA’s contemporary galleries will feature three interrelated exhibitions. Finding Home, Enduring Buffalo, and Illustrating Agency each explore the vital cultural contributions of Native artists through the presentation of historic works as well as works created by a breadth of contemporary makers.

“These three thematic exhibitions address histories and concepts that we expect will be novel for many visitors to the museum—many of whom did not learn an accurate or complete history of Native experiences on our continent,” said co-curators Dare Turner (Yurok Tribe) and Leila Grothe. “These exhibitions nurture an awareness of the resilience, joy, incisiveness, and brilliance of the first people of this land mass.”

The following exhibitions are curated by Dare Turner (Yurok Tribe), Curator of Indigenous Art at the Brooklyn Museum and former BMA Assistant Curator of Indigenous Art of the Americas; Leila Grothe, BMA Associate Curator of Contemporary Art; and Elise Boulanger (Citizen of the Osage Nation), BMA Curatorial Research Assistant, in consultation with a 10-member Community Advisory Panel that includes artists, scholars, designers, and community representatives.

Finding Home

Transitions are often a fact of life for Indigenous people, whether by seasonal migration, urbanization, or forced separation from family. This exhibition of nine works speaks to Native people’s dynamic and powerful relationship with land and how ideas and experiences of home and sanctuary have been and continue to be preserved. While Indigenous people of North America have beliefs and practices as wide and vast as this continent, many Native communities share a recognition that humans exist as part of a larger ecosystem that must stay in balance. As the pressures of colonization and contemporary life have assaulted traditional lifeways, the works in this exhibition demonstrate the resilience and versatility with which Natives maintain their cultures, community connections, and sense of home. The exhibition includes both historical works and contemporary works by Meryl McMaster (nêhiyaw from Red Pheasant Cree Nation, a member of the Siksika Nation, British, and Dutch), Mark Tayac (Chief of the Piscataway Indian Nation), and Marie Watt (Seneca Nation and German-Scot ancestry), among others.

Enduring Buffalo

Since time immemorial, buffalo have been essential to Indigenous lifeways on the Great Plains region, which reaches from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains and from southern Texas into central Canada. Buffalo featured prominently in religious rites, and their bodies offered food, shelter, and warmth. Euro-American colonizers and the United States government attempted to eradicate the species in a calculated strategy to subdue Native people and force them onto reservations in the late 19th century. This effort fundamentally transformed Native artmaking, historically and into the present. The critical importance of the buffalo within Plains Indigenous cultures can be seen across a selection of seven artworks that pre- and post-date the attempted eradication of the species. Among the artists included in the exhibition are Bear’s Heart (Nockkoist) (Cheyenne), Long Soldier (Húnkpapȟa Lakȟóta), and Cannupa Hanska Luger (enrolled Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation, Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lakota descent).

Illustrating Agency

This exhibition highlights the ways in which Native artists have asserted agency—the exertion of one’s own power—over representations of their communities and cultural identities through time. In the early to mid-20th century, white arts educators encouraged Native artists to create art that appealed to settlers by embracing traditional subject matter that did not fully address present realities. In the decades that followed, generations of artists worked outside the influence of white arts education systems and shrugged off settler expectations by making art on their own terms. Such work illustrates the modern Native experience, dispels harmful stereotypes, and pointedly challenges outsider understandings of Indigenous identity. The exhibition includes 28 works by artists such as Julie Buffalohead (Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma), T.C. Cannon (Kiowa/Caddo), Jaune Quick-to-See Smith (Citizen of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Nation), Wendy Red Star (Apsáalooke (Crow)), and Rose B. Simpson (Santa Clara Pueblo).

About the Baltimore Museum of Art

Founded in 1914, the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) inspires people of all ages and backgrounds through exhibitions, programs, and collections that tell an expansive story of art—challenging long-held narratives and embracing new voices. Our outstanding collection of more than 97,000 objects spans many eras and cultures and includes the world’s largest public holding of works by Henri Matisse; one of the nation’s finest collections of prints, drawings, and photographs; and a rapidly growing number of works by contemporary artists of diverse backgrounds. The museum is also distinguished by a neoclassical building designed by American architect John Russell Pope and two beautifully landscaped gardens featuring an array of modern and contemporary sculpture. The BMA is located three miles north of the Inner Harbor, adjacent to the main campus of Johns Hopkins University, and has a community branch at Lexington Market. General admission is free so that everyone can enjoy the power of art.

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