Now it's Ann Arbor's turn. The return of Artrain to its NEW Center headquarters on North Main Saturday through Wednesday, January 20-24, offers a rare chance to see Native Views: Influences of Modern Culture — A Contemporary Native American Art Exhibition.
Showcasing seventy works by fifty-three living Native American artists, Native Views offers unexpected and challenging perspectives on Native people and cultures. Exploring the themes of popular culture, land, science, and technology, the pieces juxtapose traditional Native American representations and artistic expressions with modern materials, images, and experiences. Threads of humor and irony weave through works that challenge stereotypical imagery, rethink spiritual icons, and respond to the destruction of nature, community, and tradition.
Guest curator Joanna O. Bigfeather, formerly of the Institute of American Indian Art Museum in Santa Fe, has selected many works that are colorful, playful, and full of the commercial and pop culture imagery familiar to the thousands of young people who visit Artrain. There's a skateboard by Douglas Miles painted with an Apache warrior, a fabric vest from Alex Jacobs festooned with candy wrappers and Land O'Lakes butter packages, stunning beadwork by Marcus Amerman affixed to a baby carrier bought at IKEA (pictured), and a basket woven with sixteen-millimeter film by Gail E. Tremblay. Coyotes are dressed in platform shoes and leather, Spiderman speaks Navajo, and an astronaut wears a loincloth. In Gerald L. Clarke's Ten Piece Offering, a shaman gives thanks with a KFC bucket.