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Inspired by tradition: 20th Century Native American Prints

March 1, 2008 - November 30, 2008

The twenty-three artists featured in this exhibition embody the spirit of Modern and Contemporary Native American art, a movement that began in the 1960s. The beginning of the 1960s marked an era in which Native American artists began to explore international artistic styles and work with contemporary media, including printmaking.

Artists such as Fritz Scholder and T.C. Cannon have represented American Indian life in the context of the modern world. Their artistic backgrounds and cultural heritage is immensely diverse, yet they all share a contemporary vision inspired by their Indian traditions. At the time, this was considered revolutionary. Many, including some “traditional” Indians even considered these works disrespectful.

This stunning selection of prints highlights a medium that unlike pottery, basketry and weaving, was not traditionally associated with Indian works. Furthermore, these images show a departure from the 19th century depictions of a romanticized noble savage recorded by the “white man.” These incredibly talented artists prove that theirs is not a dying race, but one that is evolving in a global world. They still create and innovate in pottery, beading, and weaving, while also in photography, painting, and printmaking.

These striking works demonstrate the strength of American Indian cultural traditions and the vigor Indian artists have brought to their own histories and to the development of international Modern and Contemporary art. They have created a lasting legacy that continues to shape and enrich the artistic environment of Native American generations working today.