60 curators, one show: Native Americans choose their favorite pottery

SANTA FE, New Mexico (AP) – Native American voices and arts are at the heart of a new traveling exhibition of clay pottery from the Pueblo Indian region of the American Southwest, as major art institutions increasingly abandon tribal communities to display ancestral art and antiquities.

In all, 60 Native American artists, museum professionals, storytellers, and political leaders collaborated to curate the exhibition.

Each picked a few of their favorite pieces from institutional collections in New Mexico and New York that didn’t always adhere to indigenous views. Clay porcelain accompanies personal data and sometimes poetry.

Among the many curators, Tara Gatewood – a broadcaster and familiar voice across India from the daily radio show “Native American Calling” – chose an ancestral jar decorated with netting arrows created nearly 1,000 years ago.

For the show, Gatewood asked some honest questions to the unnamed Destiny creator.

“Is your blood for me?” She said. Where else outside the surface of this vessel do your fingerprints appear on the chart of my private life?

exhibition” Institutionalized in the mud Debuts July 31 at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe. Next year it travels to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, before additional stops at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and the St. Louis Museum of Art.

The bulk of the nearly 110 ceramic exhibits were borrowed from the Indian Arts Research Center – formerly reserved for visiting scholars and archaeologists – on the century-old campus. Advanced Research Schoolin the middle of a wealthy Santa Fe neighborhood of plaster houses.

Efforts have been underway at the center for more than a decade to change how indigenous arts and artifacts are cared for, displayed, and interpreted – under the guidance and collaboration of indigenous communities.

The changes began under Cynthia Chavez Lamar – who was recently appointed director of the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC. Guidelines for cooperation It can help Native American communities everywhere connect and build trust with museums.

The curators of “Grounded in Clay” hail from 19 Native American communities in New Mexico, the West Texas community of Ysleta del Sur and the Hopi tribe in Arizona.

They include a group of potters, jewelers, beadmakers, costume designers, and museum professionals—among them the sculptor Cliff Fragua, who created a likeness to the leader of the Pueblo Revolution of 1680 that stands in the National Constitutional Hall of the US Capitol.

Elicia Bohn, who directed the curation process for more than two years, strode into the museum’s exhibit during the pre-opening finishing touches.

“We try to make sure that each individual’s voice is represented in some way,” said Boone, director of the Indian Center for Arts Research. “Either in the poster, or in the quote here, or in that painting. It’s in the form of poetry, others in prose, and some are more abstract in how they are written. Some really contemplate fate itself…or vague memories of growing up around pottery, how This fate inspires memory.”

Pueblo pottery traditions are based on rolling strands of clay into a range of shapes and sizes – without a rotating pottery wheel. Pots, dishes, or figurines are often fired close to the ground inside improvised outdoor ovens.

Brian Vallo, Urban Museums Consultant and Governor of Acoma Pueblo from 2019 to 21, chose two pieces for the new travel exhibition – both of which have unmistakable links with comaknown as the “City of Heaven” at the top of the Mesa and by hundreds of contemporary artists and craftsmen.

He found them at the New York-based Vilcek Foundation, a participant in the traveling show.

He says something beautiful and refreshing awaits experienced museum-goers and curious tourists.

“They are indigenous sounds, even items chosen by the indigenous people themselves, not the institutions,” Vallow said. “They will appreciate the survival and prosperity of these cultures, and the creative spirit of our people is still very much alive.”