Minneapolis Institute of Art to Stage Major Survey of Native Women Artists

Rose B. Simpson, Maria, 2014.


The Minneapolis Institute of Art is planning to stage “Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists,” which the museum is billing as the first major survey devoted to its subject. Organized by Jill Ahlberg Yohe, an associate curator in the museum’s Native American art department, and Teri Greeves, an independent curator who is a member of the Kiowa Nation, the exhibition is slated to open in June 2019.

“Hearts of Our People” has been years in the making and was assembled in collaboration with a committee of 22 Native and non-Native scholars from around North America. More than 115 objects will be included in the show, which is to include such artists as Marie Watt, Jamie Okuma, Rose B. Simpson, DY Begay, and Anita Fields, among others. Organized under three themes (“Legacy,” “Relationships,” and “Power”), the show spans hundreds of years of history, from ancient times to the present day, in an attempt to offer visibility to female creators who have long been unstudied by mainstream arts institutions. The exhibition follows on the heels of traveling exhibitions about black women artists during the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s, and Latinx and Latin American women during the same era.

In a statement, Ahlberg Yohe, the co-curator, said, “Women have always been central to Native art, though their contributions have largely gone unrecognized. This exhibition challenges prevailing assumptions in Native art scholarship, which for the most part has considered women artists to be anonymous. By contrast, ‘Hearts of Our People’ delves into how the works on view are tied to the intricate personal and cultural histories of each individual artist.”

After at its run in Minneapolis, “Hearts of Our People” will travel to the Frist Center in Nashville, the Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C., and the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Later this year, in October, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, is also opening “Art for a New Understanding: Native Voices, 1950s to Now,” a far-reaching survey of indigenous art that is likewise being touted as the first of its kind.

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