Native America: In Translation
Queer Rage, Imagine Life-Size, and I’m Tyra, from the series Indigenous Woman
February 24–June 25, 2023
Herzfeld Center for Photography and Media Arts
Included with Admission
“The ultimate form of decolonization is through how Native languages form a view of the world. These artists provide sharp perceptions, rooted in their cultures.” —Wendy Red Star
In Native America: In Translation, 10 artists consider Indigenous histories, cultures, and representation through a contemporary lens. Photography, a medium historically used to suppress and stereotype Native cultures, is reclaimed by these artists, who are, in the words of the curator Wendy Red Star, “opening up space in the art world for new ways of seeing and thinking.”
The exhibition highlights the featured artists’ perspectives on community, identity, heritage, and the legacy of colonialism on the American continents. Among them, Martine Gutierrez used the fashion magazine format to question the social construction of identity in her work Indigenous Woman. In nindinawemaganidog (all my relations), Rebecca Belmore combined symbolic elements from her past performance works to call attention to violence perpetrated by governments against Native people. And in photographs unique to the Milwaukee Art Museum’s presentation, Tom Jones beaded portraits of people from his community with patterns referencing their Ho-Chunk cultural traditions.
Also featured in the exhibition are Nalikutaar Jacqueline Cleveland, Koyoltzintli, Duane Linklater, Guadalupe Maravilla, Kimowan Metchewais, Alan Michelson, and Marianne Nicolson. All 10 artists represent various Native nations and affiliations throughout what is now called North America, including Cold Lake First Nations, Ho-Chunk Nation, Lac Seul First Nation, Musgamakw Dzawada'enuxw First Nations, Native Village of Kwinhagak Tribal Government, and Six Nations of the Grand River.
Native America: In Translation is curated by Wendy Red Star, an Apsáalooke artist whose work was included in the Museum’s recent exhibition On Repeat: Serial Photography. Native America: In Translation is organized by Aperture and was developed from the Fall 2020 issue of Aperture magazine guest edited by Red Star. The Native Initiatives Advisory Group at the Museum was instrumental in helping develop the programs we are offering in conjunction with this exhibition.
Tom Jones (Ho-Chunk, b. 1964), JoAnn Jones (detail), from the series Strong Unrelenting Spirits, 2015, printed 2021.
Inkjet print, beads, thread. Image courtesy of the artist © Tom Jones.
Rebecca Belmore (Lac Seul First Nation, b. 1960), matriarch (detail), from the series nindinawemaganidog (all of my relations), 2018.
Inkjet print. Photo by Henri Robindeau. Courtesy of the artist and Aperture, New York. © Rebecca Belmore
“Native America: In Translation” is organized by Aperture and is made possible, in part, with generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Exhibitions in the Herzfeld Center for Photography and Media Arts sponsored by