Museum Director Marcelle Giving a Press Preview

Milwaukee Art Museum to Present Exhibition Exploring Contemporary Native American Art and Culture Through the Medium of Photography

Posted on January 11th, 2023


Native America: In Translation, opening February 24, 2023, and organized by Aperture, features works by ten Indigenous artists who use the camera to reimagine what it means to be a citizen in North America today.

Milwaukee, WI – January 5, 2023 – The Milwaukee Art Museum will present Native America: In Translation, a group exhibition comprised of artworks by ten contemporary Indigenous artists, including the late artist Kimowan Metchewais (Cree, Cold Lake First Nations) and Madison-based photographer Tom Jones (Ho-Chunk), that considers the complex histories of colonialism, identity, and heritage through a contemporary lens. Native America: In Translation will be on view at the Milwaukee Art Museum from February 24 through June 23, 2023.

Native America: In Translation is curated by Wendy Red Star (Apsáalooke), a Portland, Oregon-based artist who engages archival research and her Native American cultural heritage in her practice. In selecting artists for inclusion, Red Star said, “I was thinking about young Native artists, and what would be inspirational and important for them as a road map. The people included here have all played an important part in forging pathways, in opening up space in the art world for new ways of seeing and thinking.”

The exhibition, which extends Red Star’s work as guest editor of the Fall 2020 issue of Aperture magazine, features pieces by Rebecca Belmore (Lac Seul First Nation), Nalikutaar Jacqueline Cleveland (Yup’ik), Martine Gutierrez (American), Koyoltzintli (Ecuadorian-American), Duane Linklater (Omaskêko Ininiwak from Moose Cree First Nation), Guadalupe Maravilla (American, b. El Salvador), Kimowan Metchewais (Cree, Cold Lake First Nations), Alan Michelson (Mohawk, Six Nations of the Grand River), and Marianne Nicolson (Musgamakw Dzawada’enuxw First Nations); the inclusion of works by Tom Jones (Ho-Chunk) is unique to the Milwaukee Art Museum’s presentation.

“We are excited to host this exhibition of work by Indigenous artists working in photography today,” said Ariel Pate, Assistant Curator of Photography, at the Milwaukee Art Museum. “Historically, the relationship between Native people and photography is complicated, and these artists are reclaiming the medium, using the camera to tell contemporary narratives about community, identity, and heritage, and the legacy of colonialism on the American continents.”

Older Native American woman in a green blouse and long necklace
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.

The Milwaukee Art Museum’s presentation of this touring exhibition will include three beaded portraits by Tom Jones, one of which will receive its museum premiere. Jones’s photographs combine portraits of contemporary Ho-Chunk people with intricate beadwork inspired by his cultural heritage. Two of these works were acquired by the Museum recently and will be on view for the first time since entering the collection. Also premiering in the Milwaukee presentation will be two works by the influential and recently rediscovered artist Kimowan Metchewais, marking the first time these works will be exhibited since Metchewais’s archive entered the collection of the National Museum of the American Indian after his premature death in 2011. The exhibition will also feature a suite of works by Martine Gutierrez from her Indigenous Woman project, which, as Gutierrez writes, is “an independent art publication dedicated to the celebration of Mayan Indian heritage, the navigation of contemporary indigeneity, and the ever-evolving self-image.”

“We are thrilled to welcome Tom Jones’ works into the Museum’s collection and have them available for visitors to enjoy and consider in the exhibition Native America: In Translation,” said Marcelle Polednik, Donna and Donald Baumgartner Director of the Milwaukee Art Museum. “The exhibition’s powerful portraits not only reflect important stories and histories shared by our local communities, but they will also spark new conversations within the Museum’s walls that will inspire visitors for years to come.”

Native America: In Translation will be accompanied by a robust schedule of programming guided by the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Native Initiatives Advisory Group. This group was convened in 2020 and works closely with Museum staff to reconsider how the institution presents art by and about Indigenous communities. The group of community members includes people from tribal nations from across Wisconsin. For Native America: In Translation, the group advised the Museum on interpretation and programming, including Family Sundays: Celebrating Native Art and Artists, which will be held on March 12, 2023, in Windhover Hall. Family Sundays is a signature Museum event that offers experiential and family-friendly programming designed to bring art to life for every generation. Related publications, including the “Native America” issue and recent Aperture monographs on Red Star and Metchewais, will be on display in the exhibition and available for purchase at mam.org.

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 are sponsored by the Herzfeld Foundation. The Milwaukee Art Museum extends its sincere thanks to the 2023 Visionaries.


Programming

Family Sundays: Celebrating Native Art and Artists
March 12, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Celebrate Indigenous cultures and creativity with us during this day of family fun. Tour the work of 10 contemporary artists in the exhibition Native America: In Translation. Enjoy a special performance, explore what artists from our region are creating, and learn about Native languages. Join the hands-on activities and make your own work of art to take home.

Expert Series: Artist Rebecca Belmore in Conversation with Wanda Nanibush
March 30, 6:15 p.m.
Hear from the Toronto-based artist Rebecca Belmore as she talks about her work with Wanda Nanibush, curator of Indigenous art at the Art Gallery of Ontario who curated AGO’s 2018 exhibition Rebecca Belmore: Facing the Monumental. An opening performance by opera singer Jennifer Stevens of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin will precede the conversation. The evening will close with a public reception. Sponsored by the Midwest Art History Society; Milwaukee Art Museum’s Contemporary Art Society; and Milwaukee Art Museum’s Photography Council.

Artist Gallery Talk: Tom Jones
May 6, 1 p.m.
Madison-based photographer Tom Jones shares behind the scenes insights about his works in the exhibition.

Haberman Local Luminaries
May 11, 6:15 p.m.
Meet cross-disciplinary figures from our region who will each share a ten-minute reflection on the artworks in the exhibition. Guests include Mark Freeland, Director of the Electa Quinney Institute, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; J25 (Chickasaw Nation), musician and first Indigenous woman to be a member of the Recording Academy (awarder of the GRAMMY Awards); and Jeanette Martín, a Queer Chicana community-based artist, cultural worker, and educator. Sponsored by the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Photography Council.

Gallery Talks
Thurs, March 2, April 6, June 22, and May 25, noon–1 p.m. Thurs, March 9, 6–7 p.m.
With Assistant Curator of Photography Ariel Pate


About Wendy Red Star

Wendy Red Star (born 1981, Billings, Montana) is a Portland, Oregon–based artist raised on the Apsáalooke reservation. Her work is informed both by her Native American cultural heritage and by her engagement with many forms of creative expression, including photography, sculpture, video, fiber arts, and performance. An avid researcher of archives and historical narratives, Red Star seeks to recast her research, offering new and unexpected perspectives that are inquisitive, witty, and unsettling. Red Star holds a BFA from Montana State University, Bozeman, and an MFA in sculpture from the University of California, Los Angeles. Red Star’s first major monograph, Delegation, is co-published by Aperture and Documentary Arts.

About the Milwaukee Art Museum

The Milwaukee Art Museum welcomes people from throughout the community and the world to find themselves and lose themselves in art, creativity, and culture. At any one time, visitors can experience over 2,500 works on view within the Museum’s collection galleries and three ever-changing exhibition spaces; participate in engaging programming; and explore the one-of-a-kind spaces across the 24-acre lakefront campus. The iconic architecture brings together structures designed by Eero Saarinen, David Kahler, and Santiago Calatrava. Famous for its moving Burke Brise Soleil, the Museum serves as a symbol of Milwaukee pride and connects the shores of Lake Michigan to the city’s bustling downtown. For more information, visit mam.org.

About Aperture

Aperture, a not-for-profit foundation, connects the photo community and its audiences with the most inspiring work, the sharpest ideas, and with each other—in print, in person, and online. Created in 1952 by photographers and writers as “common ground for the advancement of photography,” Aperture today is a multiplatform publisher and center for the photo community. From its base in New York, Aperture produces, publishes, and presents a variety of photography projects and programs—locally, across the United States, and around the world. For more information, visit aperture.org.

Media Contacts

For more information or to request images, please contact:

Cortney Heimerl
Milwaukee Art Museum
cortney.heimerl@mam.org
414-940-0490