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July 02, 2012

An Exhibit of Native American Art at the Museum of Arts and Design

By Ingrid Skjong | Art

An Exhibit of Native American Art at the Museum of Arts and Design
Courtesy Ari Plosker /©2012 Ari Plosker, all rights reserved

Arranged over the span of a decade and broken into three distinct shows, the exhibit series “Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation” at the Museum of Arts and Design delved into the mystery, beauty and heritage of Native American art. With “Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 3,” the third and final installment that opened June 26, the discovery continues with a focus on contemporary native North American art from the North- and Southeast.

Thought provoking, colorful and often inspiring, the more than 130 works are courtesy of 85 artists hailing from places like the Great Lakes and the Canadian Sub Arctic. While the previous two exhibits—“Art Without Reservation 1” (art, craft and design from the American Southwest) and “Art Without Reservation 2” (pieces by artists indigenous to lands located west of the Mississippi)—concentrated on themes of traditions being passed down from generation to generation, this one tends to look toward the future. Innovative works make use of traditional techniques (baskets by artist Jeremy Frey (pictured above) that recall basketry art from early Maine), iconography (stylized masks of wood and melted glass by Robert Tannahill) and materials (strands of fishing wire sprinkled with hooks by Frank Shebegaget). 

“I realized that these cultures were the earliest assimilated and likely decimated and, in some cases, needed to relearn much of what had been lost,” says co-curator Ellen Taubman. “Many of the artists are also educators. Many have gone back to their native lands to rediscover what came before and bring it back to life.” Through October 21; 2 Columbus Circle; 212-299-7777; madmuseum.org.