Photo by Clarissa Rose Pepper/National Museum of the American Indian.
C.Maxx Stevens, "Two Things with Mum," 2012. Monoprint, digital prints with mixed media. 22” x30”.

Art of the Nations: New Exhibits at the National Museum of the American Indian

March 11, 2013

Works displaying the talents of Native artists from all over Turtle Island -- Cheyenne River Reservation in Wyoming to Belize in Central America -- are being featured at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in three new exhibits. Here, with descriptions from the Museum, are previews of what's available to see. 

C.Maxx Stevens: House of Memory

C.Maxx Stevens, Seminole/Muscogee, is a visual storyteller whose deeply personal, eclectic constructions tell stories about places and people from her past. Working with “found objects” and ephemeral materials such as paper, wood and hair, her art has a dark, gritty quality that is both haunting and familiar. The selected sculpture, installation and prints in this solo exhibition address memory through cultural and personal symbols, and illustrate the complexities of the contemporary Native experience. Her work will be on exhibit at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York until June 16. For more details, click here.

C.Maxx Stevens, Dad’s House, 2012 (detail). Horse hair, feathers, cotton cloth, 9 x 3 x 6’. Photo courtesy of the artist. Photo by Clarissa Rose Pepper. (Courtesy National Museum of the American Indian)

Grand Procession: Dolls From the Charles and Valerie Diker Collection

Grand Procession celebrates Native identity through 23 colorful and meticulously detailed objects that are much more than dolls. Traditionally made by female relatives using buffalo hair, hide, porcupine quills, and shells, figures like these have long served as both toys and teaching tools for American Indian communities. Outfitted in intricate regalia, these dolls—on loan from the Charles and Valerie Diker Collection—represent Plains and Plateau tribes and the work of five artists: Rhonda Holy Bear, Cheyenne River Lakota, Joyce Growing Thunder, Assiniboine/Sioux, Juanita Growing Thunder Fogarty, Assiniboine/Sioux, Jessa Rae Growing Thunder, Assiniboine/Sioux, and Jamie Okuma, Luiseño/ Shoshone-Bannock. Their superb craftsmanship and attention to detail imbue these figures with a remarkable presence and power, turning a centuries-old tradition into a contemporary art form. Grand Procession will open April 17 and run until January 5, 2014, in Washington, D.C. For further details, click here.

Rhonda Holy Bear (Cheyenne River Lakota), Maternal Journey (detail), 2010. Wood, hide, cloth, paint, glass beads, hair, shell, metal. Photo by Mark Damon, courtesy of the artist. (National Museum of the American Indian)

Cerámica de los Ancestros: Central America's Past Revealed

This exhibition illuminates Central America’s diverse and dynamic ancestral heritage with a selection of more than 160 objects. For thousands of years, Central America has been home to vibrant civilizations, each with unique, sophisticated ways of life, value systems, and arts. The ceramics these peoples left behind, combined with recent archaeological discoveries, help tell the stories of these dynamic cultures and their achievements. Cerámica de los Ancestros examines seven regions representing distinct Central American cultural areas that are today part of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. Spanning the period from 1000 BC to the present, the ceramics featured, selected from the museum’s collection of more than 12,000 pieces from the region, are augmented with significant examples of work in gold, jade, shell, and stone. These objects illustrate the richness, complexity, and dynamic qualities of the Central American civilizations that were connected to peoples in South America, Mesoamerica, and the Caribbean through social and trade networks sharing knowledge, technology, artworks, and systems of status and political organization. Cerámica de los Ancestros will be on exhibit from March 29 until February 1, 2015 in Washington, D.C. For more details, click here.

Greater Nicoya female figure-vessel, AD 800-1200. Linea Vieja area, Costa Rica. Pottery, clay slip, paint. Photo by Ernest Amoroso, NMAI. (22/8837) (National Museum of the American Indian)