Peabody Essex Museum Launches One of the Largest American Indian Exhibits in 30 Years

Peabody Essex Museum Launches One of the Largest American Indian Exhibits in 30 Years


One of the largest American Indian art exhibitions to open in North American in 30-years has arrived at the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM), in Salem, Massachusetts. Shapeshifting, which includes nearly 80 works from public and private collections worldwide, offers a "far-reaching exploration of Native American art as a continuum, juxtaposing historic and contemporary artworks," the museum's site states.

The exhibit is a extensive look at Native art through a range of mediums—­­­­sculpture, painting, ceramics, textiles, photography, drawing, film, video and monumental installation. "Visual and conceptual connections are drawn between generations of Native people, art traditions and cultures," PEM states. The exhibition opened to the public on January 14 anr runs to April 29.

PEM is making an effort to arrange the exhibit in a way that better reflects the connections between the wide range of art being made by American Indians.

"Typically arranged chronologically, geographically, or by medium, exhibitions of Native Art have almost exclusively focused on either historical or contemporary works, with very little mixing of the two," says Karen Kramer Russell, exhibition curator and PEM's curator of Native American Art and Culture. "Shapeshifting will prompt visitors to see the links and continuities within the vast panorama of Native American art, and to consider it with fresh eyes. Our intention is to shift how Native Art is exhibited and discussed."

Shapeshifting has been organized into four thematic sections: Changing, Knowing, Locating, and Voicing. Two monumental contemporary installations that compellingly address familiar icons and materials, Kent Monkman's 2007 Théâtre de Cristal and Brian Jungen's 2002 Cetology, begin and end visitors' journey through the exhibition.

This is a truly groundbreaking exhibit and one we highly recommend for anyone in the area or willing to travel.

Fore more information on this incredible exhibit, visit the PEM's sit here.

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