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About the Exhibition

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“The Truth about stories is that’s all we are… Stories can be wondrous things. And they are dangerous.”

-Thomas KingThe Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative 

Visual art plays a role in creating and perpetuating stories. When art depicts people, the stories it tells can communicate the complexity and vibrancy of culture and identity, or sometimes it can romanticize, stereotype, and pigeonhole identity. Unfortunately, our history includes many depictions of Native Americans that convey stereotypes, racism, and oversimplification.

 

In this exhibition, I wanted to bring together the work of contemporary Native American artists who have countered stereotypes and celebrated complex, living and evolving histories of Native Americans. The vibrancy and resiliency shown in these works offer just a glimpse of how Native American cultures continue to thrive, be challenged, and evolve.

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The works in this exhibition celebrate Native American living histories. The works unravel and counter stereotypes by creating new representations and celebrations of the complexity and vibrancy of Native American cultures.

 

Thanks for taking the time to look at this work, and thanks especially to the artists in this show for their participation and for creating this powerful work.

- Curator Jessica Walton

Artist Talks

The Galleries hosted 6 talks with the artists of A(mend): New Narratives of Native American Life. Each artist joined us for a Zoom live event in which they spoke about their work and life as creators. The chat was then opened for the audience to ask questions. Each talk was recorded so that those who could not make it could still enjoy it. Thank you for stopping by and watching. 

Cannupa Hanska Luger

Pamela J. Peters

Anna Tsouhlarakis

Ashley Minner

Sarah Sense

Monique Verdin

The Artists

Cannupa Hanska Luger

This is a Stereotype is made from archival footage juxtaposed with modern interviews, and woven together with an artistic response. We have gathered historical footage from the Institute of American Indian Arts Archive (Native American Videotape Archive - 1976) along side more current documentation, allowing a broader approach to addressing the subject matter. We have pulled from a wide range of sources for interviews including artists, scholars, and political activists representing nations from across the United States. We have documented many perspectives, creating a multi faceted dialogue, which will enrich the theme of the film and allow for the audience to build their own interpretation around the misconceptions of the Native American.
- This Is A Stereotype was created collaboratively by artists Cannupa Hanska Luger, Dylan McLaughlin and Ginger Dunnill

About Cannupa Hanska Luger

Cannupa Hanska Luger is a multi-disciplinary artist of Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lakota and European descent. Using social collaboration and in response to timely and site-specific issues, Luger produces multi-pronged projects provoking diverse publics to engage with Indigenous peoples and values apart from the lens of colonial social structuring. He exhibits, lectures and participates in projects globally. Luger is a 2020 Creative Capital Fellow, a 2020 Smithsonian Artist Research Fellow, the recipient the 2020 A Blade Of Grass Artist Fellowship for Socially Engaged Art and the recipient of the Center For Crafts inaugural Craft Research Fund Artist Fellowship for 2020. He is the recipient of a 2019 Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grants, and the recipient of the Museum of Arts and Design’s 2018 inaugural Burke Prize.

Ashley Minner

I come from a community where everyone is called upon to use their talents to uplift the community as a whole. Someone might hang sheetrock, someone might sing. As an Artist, I’ve been asked to do “art jobs” for as long as I can remember. Perhaps this history pointed me to the path of “Art for Social Change,” which has become my professional practice. 
    
My artwork originates in my understanding of the community I grew up in, the Lumbee community of Southeast Baltimore. It comes from curly headed youngins, country talk, soul food, and hip-hop; from Sunday School, homemade tattoos and row homes. It comes from culture class, eagle feathers, stories about knife fights told on stoops and laughter in the street. It is inspired by kinship traced through generations and the “meanness” that makes us all cousins and mutual protectors. 

 

It flows from a desire to see our people healthy and prosperous-- living heirs of a rich legacy, the most recent chapter in the history of a proud and fierce nation.

I try to uplift our people in ways that are both honest and in a manner that they want to be seen, with Honor and Respect. I chose to do this through portraits in photography and hand-made artist books. 

The men and women who were asked to participate in this project are all part of what I consider to be “my generation.” We are close in age. Many of us grew up together and despite the different paths we have chosen for ourselves in life, we are still close and see each other regularly to this day. Those who agreed to visit the photography studio were encouraged to wear what they liked best. We did several sessions with different groups of people. Each time, the entire group would stand behind the camera along with the photographer to encourage and coach the person whose portrait was being taken. Each person was given the opportunity to choose the photograph they felt best represented them. Text incorporated into the portraits, written by us, gives viewers a glimpse into our hopes for one other and the depths of ourselves. “The Exquisite Lumbee” book exists to demonstrate that, although we as a people run the gamut of skin colors, hair colors and hair textures, we do have a distinctive quality, character and style. We recognize each other. We are exquisite. 
 

About Ashley Minner

Ashley Minner is a community based visual artist from Baltimore, Maryland and an enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. She received her MFA (’11) and MA (’07) in Community Arts, and her BFA (’05) in General Fine Arts from Maryland Institute College of Art. She recently earned her PhD (’20) in American Studies from University of Maryland College Park. Ashley works as a Professor of the Practice and Folklorist in the Department of American Studies at University of Maryland Baltimore County, where she also serves as director of the minor in Public Humanities. She especially enjoys spending time with her family, listening to old music, and traveling.

Pamela J Peters

Pamela J. Peters is an Diné multimedia documentarian born and raised on the Navajo Reservation, in Red Valley, Arizona. Her tribal clans are Tachii'nii (Red Running into the Water clan) and born for the Tl'aashchí'í (Red Bottom People clan). She received a BA in American Indian Studies with a minor in Film Television and Digital Media from UCLA. Her first multimedia project, Legacy of Exiled NDNZ began as a short film that has expanded into an ongoing multimedia component about the history of American Indians urban relocation project that was highly influenced by the 1961 film The Exiles.


From her projects, her work has expanded to personal narratives of contemporary urban Indians in photography, film and writing in which she calls Indigenous Realism. Her mission is to combat the idea of the static, stereotypical Indian portrayed so pervasively in all media. She wants people to know that Indians are many nations with many stories. Pamela’s portraits stand against prevalent stereotypes of American Indians in popular culture. Having grown up on the reservation in Red Valley, Arizona her experience of Indian life was not reflected in popular culture. She made it her dream to produce authentic portraits and stories of the persistence of Indian life in contemporary contexts. As a storyteller, she develops photographic narratives that illustrate the real stories of American Indians within their communities. Her goal is to represent the beauty and complexity of their lives in their personal settings, and to humanize them in a way rarely done in mass media. Through her work, she intends to re-appropriate harmful stereotypes and share an Indigenous visual sovereignty with the world.

About Pamela J Peters

Pamela J. Peters is a Diné multimedia documentarian from the Navajo Reservation where she was born and raised. Her first clan is Tachii'nii (Red Running into the Water clan), which she uses to identify here photography. Pamela’s work captures not only still images documenting people, cultures and environments, but she also incorporates storytelling with video digital capturing that is completed with a unique and distinctive, creative style. Her creative lens explores the history and identity of her participants which she calls Indigenous Realism, that examines lives, placement with a nostalgic aesthetic in her photography images. She incorporates black and white photography to express her photography series: Legacy of Exiled NDNZ that explores the 1950s Indian Relocation program and Real NDNZ Re-Take Hollywood that evocates a studio-style portraits of Hollywood glamour of the 1940s and 1950s.

Sarah Sense