Eiteljorg’s New Exhibition “A Sense of Beauty” to Showcase Exceptional Native Art


Les Namingha (Hopi-Tewa/Zuni, born 1967)
Late Mirovian Period Pueblo Jar, 2015
Clay, paint
Gift of Steve and Jane Marmon

Published January 4, 2019

Running March 9-Aug. 4, specialized exhibition kicks off museum’s 30th year

INDIANAPOLIS — A new exhibition at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art kicks off a 30th anniversary year at the museum and will premiere many recently acquired Native American artworks that rarely or never have been on exhibit.  Visitors will enjoy a “tree” of jewelry, a “waterfall” of baskets and a “whirlwind” of weavings. These exceptional installations of objects will emphasize the aesthetic beauty of the pieces and engage the senses.

The exhibit A Sense of Beauty opens March 9, 2019, at the Eiteljorg Museum and will highlight recently acquired contemporary and customary (or “traditional”) Native artworks.

Dan Viets Lomahaftewa (Hopi/Choctaw, 1951–2005)
Spring Arrival, 1994
Collagraph on paper
Gift: Courtesy of Gail C. Kirchner. Dedicated with love and joy to the donor’s family: Carroll and Brett Davis, Amy, John, and Mary Nell Kirchner

“We have opened the museum vault and brought out some stunning pieces that convey the boundless creativity and talent of Native American artists representing Indigenous cultures from across North America,” Eiteljorg President and CEO John Vanausdall said. “This thought-provoking exhibition of Native works during the museum’s 30th year will delight and inspire Eiteljorg visitors.”

Intricate weavings, ceramic art, delicate jewelry, extraordinary baskets, glass art, prints and eye-catching installations will fill the museum’s main floor special exhibition gallery. The Native art represented includes works by the Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellows and past award-winning pieces by Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival artists. Other works include generous donations from collectors, artists and patrons. Reflecting many cultures, regions and artistic styles, the outstanding pieces underscore the museum’s serious commitment to collecting, and most of the works have not previously been on public view.

Part of the fun for Eiteljorg visitors will be the compelling ways the artworks will be presented. Instead of seeing works under glass cases, visitors will enjoy a “waterfall” of baskets suspended as they spill down a wall, a “river” of pottery meandering throughout the gallery, a “tree” of handmade jewelry and a “whirlwind” of floating, twirling woven rugs, fixed in mid-air. Kiosks with images and captions will identify the pieces and artists, while text panels will focus on the subjects of art collecting, collectors and ideas about “beauty.”

Alongside one wall will be a striking installation by 2015 Eiteljorg Fellow Da-ka-xeen Mehner (Tlingit/Nisga’a), Call and Respond 1 & 2, that has an audio interactive of recorded singing voices. Along another wall will be an enormous 40-foot multicolor geometric print, composed of more than 200 individual prints, Okanagan IV, by 2001 Eiteljorg Fellow Joe Feddersen (Colville Confederated Tribes.)  The Feddersen print will serve as inspiration for a crowd-created art project in the museum’s Eagle Commons, where visitors can draw their own pages to add to a separate, large community art installation.

Vernon Haskie (Navajo, born 1968)
Bracelet, 2007
Silver, coral
Gift of Helen Cox Kersting

Continuing through Aug. 4, 2019, A Sense of Beauty will celebrate the tremendous versatility of Native artistic expression and the joy of collecting art. The exhibition is curated by Jennifer Complo McNutt, the curator of contemporary art; Scott Shoemaker, Ph.D., the Thomas G. and Susan C. Hoback curator of Native American art, history and culture; and Dorene Red Cloud, assistant curator of Native American art. The exhibit’s innovative design was created by Steve Sipe, director of exhibition and graphic design. Visit www.eiteljorg.org for details.

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