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Museums/Art – Native Fashion Now February 17, 2017–September 4, 2017 New York, NY – National Museum of the American Indian

 

The National Museum of the American Indian

From vibrant street clothing to exquisite haute couture, Native Fashion Now celebrates the visual range, creative expression, and political nuance of Native American fashion. Nearly 70 works spanning the last 50 years explore the vitality of Native fashion designers and artists from pioneering Native style-makers to maverick designers making their mark in today’s world of fashion.

Featuring contemporary garments, accessories, and footwear spanning a variety of genres and materials, this exhibition features designers who traverse cross-cultural boundaries between creative expression and cultural borrowing. From one of Patricia Michaels’ (Taos Pueblo) finale ensembles from the reality television series Project Runway to Jamie Okuma’s (Luiseño/Shoshone-Bannock) dramatically beaded Christian Louboutin boots, and innovative works made from Mylar, vinyl, and stainless steel, Native Fashion Now underscores Native concepts of dress and beauty, which are inextricably bound to identity and tradition in a rapidly changing world.

Native Fashion Now is organized by the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts. The Coby Foundation Ltd. provided generous support. The New York presentation of this exhibition and related programming is made possible through the generous support of Ameriprise Financial and the members of the New York Board of Directors of the National Museum of the American Indian. Additional funding provided by Macy’s.

 

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian’s George Gustav Heye Center in New York will host the final showing of the first large-scale traveling exhibition of contemporary Native American fashion, celebrating indigenous designers from across the United States and Canada, from the 1950s to today. “Native Fashion Now,” originally organized by the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass., explores the exciting and complex realms where fashion meets art, cultural identity, politics and commerce.

The exhibition opens Friday, Feb. 17, 2017, in the museum’s East Gallery and runs through Sept. 4.

Through nearly 70 works, “Native Fashion Now” explores the vitality of Native fashion designers and artists—from pioneering Native style-makers of the mid-20th century like Charles Loloma (Hopi Pueblo) to maverick designers of today such as Wendy Red Star (Apsálooke [Crow]). The exhibition immerses visitors in all aspects of contemporary Native fashion—its concerns, modes of expression and efforts to create meaning through fashion. “Native Fashion Now” is the first show to emphasize the long-standing, evolving and increasingly prominent relationship between fashion and creativity in Native culture.

“New York City is a fashion capital of the world and the works shown in this exhibition belong on this stage,” said Kevin Gover (Pawnee), director of the National Museum of the American Indian. “Native voice is powerful and Native couture is a megaphone. These designers’ works demonstrate to visitors the contemporary strength of Native iconographies and sensibilities.”

The exhibition’s four themes—Pathbreakers, Revisitors, Activators and Provocateurs—reflect how designers respond to ideas and trends in the world of Native fashion. Pathbreakers are groundbreaking designers like Dorothy Grant (Haida) and Frankie Welch (Cherokee descent), while Revisitors refresh, renew and expand on tradition, like D.Y. Begay (Diné [Navajo]) and Bethany Yellowtail (Apsáalooke/Northern Cheyenne). Activators embrace an everyday, personal style that engages with today’s trends and politics, like the work of Marcus Amerman (Choctaw) that considers the overlap between mainstream and Native culture in America, while Provocateurs, like Margaret Roach Wheeler (Chickasaw) and Sho Sho Esquiro (Kaska Dene/Cree), depart from conventional fashion to make works that are conceptually driven and experimental.

Among the dozens of notable designers included in “Native Fashion Now” are Lloyd “Kiva” New (Cherokee), the first Native designer to create a successful high-fashion brand; Virgil Ortiz (Cochiti Pueblo), who in 2003 worked with fashion icon Donna Karan to create a bold collaborative couture collection and went on to launch his own fashion line, VO; Patricia Michaels (Taos Pueblo), who is known for her role on the popular show Project Runway and for her fashion line, PM Waterlily; and Jared Yazzie (Diné [Navajo]), an activist designer who uses streetwear to encourage people to think about the truths of history. For a full list of artists, go to the exhibition fact sheet.

“Native Fashion Now” Biographies

Museum Director and Exhibition Curators

December 1, 2016

Kevin Gover

Kevin Gover is the director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and a citizen of the Pawnee Tribe of Oklahoma. Since he began as director in 2007, the museum has opened several critically acclaimed exhibitions, including “Fritz Scholder: Indian/Not Indian,” the largest retrospective ever of the seminal 20th-century modern painter and sculptor; “Brian Jungen: Strange Comfort,” a major exhibition of the prominent Canadian artist (Dunne-za First Nations/Swiss-Canadian); “Infinity of Nations: Art and History in the Collections of the National Museum of the American Indian,” a spectacular permanent exhibition of 700 works in October 2010; and “A Song for the Horse Nation,” a treasure trove of stunning objects presenting the epic story of the horse’s influence on American Indian tribes.

Under Gover’s leadership, the museum’s collections search launched online to provide digital access to the museum’s objects and photographs, and the imagiNATIONS Activity Center opened in June 2012, providing a dynamic space for young visitors.

Gover was the assistant secretary for Indian Affairs in the U.S. Department of the Interior from 1997 to 2000 under President Bill Clinton, where he won praise for his efforts to rebuild long-neglected Indian schools and expand tribal and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) police forces throughout the country. His tenure as assistant secretary is perhaps best known for his apology to Native American people for the historical conduct of the BIA.

Upon leaving office, Gover practiced law at Steptoe & Johnson LLP in Washington. In 2003, he joined the faculty at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University and served on the faculty of the university’s Indian Legal Program, one of the largest such programs in the country.

Gover received his bachelor’s degree in public and international affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University and his juris doctor degree from New Mexico’s College of Law. He was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree from Princeton University in 2001.

Karen Kramer

Karen Kramer’s long-standing commitment to innovative approaches to indigenous art and culture and her broad experiences working with Native artists, scholars, communities and other stakeholders help shape the Peabody Essex Museum’s (PEM) ambitious program in Native American and Oceanic art and culture, including the growth of its collection, its sensitive presentation and its ongoing interpretation and preservation. For the past 20 years, Kramer helped produce 10 major exhibitions on Native American art and culture at PEM. More recently, she curated “Native Fashion Now,” a nationally traveling, groundbreaking exhibition celebrating contemporary Native American fashion from the 1950s to today, and the paradigm-shifting “Shapeshifting: Transformations in Native American Art,” which dismantled stereotypes and explored concepts of change, worldview and politics in historical and contemporary Native art.

Kramer directs PEM’s innovative Native American Fellowship program, which provides training for rising Native American leaders in the museum, cultural and academic sectors. Kramer served as president, vice president and as a board member for the Native American Art Studies Association from 2003 to 2015. She worked on three inaugural exhibitions at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and for National NAGPRA. She earned her Master of Arts in anthropology from George Washington University and her Bachelor of Arts in anthropology from the University of Denver.

Kathleen Ash-Milby

Kathleen Ash-Milby is an associate curator at the National Museum of the American Indian, George Gustav Heye Center and organizer of the New York presentation of “Native Fashion Now.” She has organized numerous contemporary art exhibitions at the museum, including “Kay WalkingStick: An American Artist” (2015) with co-curator David Penney, “Glittering World: Navajo Jewelry of the Yazzie Family” (2014) as curatorial liaison, “C. Maxx Stevens: House of Memory” (2012) and “Off the Map: Landscape in the Native Imagination” (2007). She was the co-curator of the “SITElines Biennial: much wider than a line,” at SITE Santa Fe (2016); “Mind (the) Gap: International Indigenous Art in Motion,” Samstag Museum of Art, University of South Australia (2011); and “Edgar Heap of Birds: Most Serene Republics,” a public-art installation and collateral project for the 52nd International Art Exhibition/Venice Biennale (2007).

Ash-Milby is a recipient of two Secretary of the Smithsonian’s Excellence in Research Awards for her exhibition and publication HIDE: Skin as Material and Metaphor (2010) in 2011 and for the publication Kay WalkingStick: An American Artist in 2016. She was a fellow in the 2015 Center for Curatorial Leadership Program in New York. Ash-Milby served on the boards of the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective (2007–2012), the American Indian Community House (2005–2007) and was the president of the Native American Art Studies Association (2011– 2015).  She was the curator and co-director of the American Indian Community House Gallery in New York City from 2000 to 2005.

A member of the Navajo Nation, she earned her Master of Arts from the University of New Mexico in Native American art history.

Exhibition Facts

  • First large-scale traveling exhibition of contemporary Native American fashion, celebrating indigenous designers from across the United States and Canada from the 1950s to today
  • First exhibition to emphasize the long-standing, evolving and increasingly prominent relationship between fashion and creativity in Native culture
  • Curated by Karen Kramer, Peabody Essex Museum curator of Native American and Oceanic art and culture. Kathleen Ash-Milby (Diné [Navajo]), associate curator at the National Museum of the American Indian, provided curation for the New York presentation
  • 4,000-square-foot exhibition is in the museum’s East Gallery
  • 68 works/ensembles; 67 artists/designers; five multimedia displays
  • One museum-owned object: “Treaty Cloth Shirt,” 2012, by Carla Hemlock (Mohawk)
  • Exhibition has four main sections: Pathbreakers, Revisitors, Activators and Provocateurs

Artists/designers represented:

Gabriel Mozart Abeyta (Taos Pueblo)
Barry Ace (Anishinaabe [Odawa])
Ray Adakai (Diné)
Pilar Agoyo (Ohkay Owingeh [San Juan]/Cochiti/Kewa [Santo Domingo] Pueblos)
Marcus Amerman (Choctaw)
Jeremy Arviso (Diné/Hopi/Pima/Tohono O’odham)
Keri Ataumbi (Kiowa)
D.Y. Begay (Diné)
Eddie Begay (Diné)
MaRia A. Bird (Diné/Hopi/Santa Clara Pueblo)
Mike Bird-Romero (Ohkay Owingeh [San Juan]/Taos Pueblos)
Caroline Blechert (Inuit)
Dustinn Craig (White Mountain Apache/Diné)
Kristen Dorsey (Chickasaw)
Orlando Dugi (Diné)
Alano Edzerza (Tahltan)
Sho Sho Esquiro (Kaska Dene/Cree)
Nicholas Galanin (Tlingit/Aleut)
David Gaussoin (Diné/Picuris Pueblo)
Wayne Nez Gaussoin (Diné/Picuris Pueblo)
Louie Gong (Nooksack/Squamish)
Dorothy Grant (Haida)
Teri Greeves (Kiowa)
Thomas Haukaas (Sicangu Lakota)
Carla Hemlock (Mohawk)
Terrance Houle (Blood)
Derek Jagodzinsky (Whitefish Cree)
Elizabeth James-Perry (Aquinnah Wampanoag)
Tommy Joseph (Tlingit)
Donna Karan
Juanita Lee (Kewa [Santo Domingo] Pueblo)
Charles Loloma (Hopi Pueblo)
Dustin Martin (Diné)
Dallin Maybee (Northern Arapaho/Seneca)
Patricia Michaels (Taos Pueblo)
Douglas Miles (San Carlos Apache/Akimel O’odham)
Kent Monkman (Cree)
Lloyd “Kiva” New (Cherokee)
Winifred Nungak (Inuit)
Jamie Okuma (Luiseño/Shoshone-Bannock)
Virgil Ortiz (Cochiti Pueblo)
Consuelo Pascal (Diné/Maya)
Niio Perkins (Akwesasne Mohawk)
Jonathan Perry (Aquinnah Wampanoag)
Wendy Ponca (Osage)
Kevin Pourier (Oglala Lakota)
Pat Pruitt (Laguna Pueblo)
Wendy Red Star (Apsáalooke [Crow])
Maria Samora (Taos Pueblo)
Cody Sanderson (Diné/Hopi/Tohono O’odham/Nambé Pueblo)
Alice Shay (Diné)
Troy Sice (Zuni Pueblo)
Maya Stewart (Chickasaw/Creek/Choctaw descent)
Lisa Telford (Haida)
Denise Wallace (Chugach Aleut)
Samuel Wallace
Robin Waynee (Saginaw Chippewa)
Frankie Welch (Cherokee descent)
Margaret Roach Wheeler (Chickasaw)
Dwayne Wilcox (Oglala Lakota)
Kenneth Williams Jr. (Northern Arapaho/Seneca)
Toni Williams (Northern Arapaho)
Margaret Wood (Diné/Seminole)
Rico Lanaat’ Worl (Tlingit/Athabascan)
Jared Yazzie (Diné)
Jolene Nenibah Yazzie (Diné)
Bethany Yellowtail (Apsáalooke [Crow]/Northern Cheyenne)

Exhibition Sections

Pathbreakers: Since the 1950s and up to the present, indigenous designers have been blazing trails in daring and distinctive ways. They have overturned the simplistic notion that all Native design tends to look the same and marry the worldview and aesthetics of their communities with modern materials and silhouettes. Clothing is their language, and they write it in silks and stainless steel, in rhythm, shape and line. These Pathbreakers increasingly source their fabrics globally and use New York runways as a jumping-off point for their careers. Along the way they create opportunities for those who follow in their footsteps.

Revisitors: One tradition never changes in Native art: things change. Native artists have always brought new materials and ideas into their work. This gallery celebrates fashion designers who refresh and expand on time-honored symbols, forms and techniques even as they adopt new ones. In turn, Revisitors use contemporary and innovative approaches to strengthen and carry forward ancient understandings of the world that sustain their tribal communities. Some make clothing and other objects specifically for powwows and Native ceremonies, while others intend their work for outside markets.

Activators: Self-representation, a recurring theme in contemporary Native fashion, is a major focus for the artists who use fashion to express identity and political ideas. Clothing can help get a message across. Activators design and style casual-chic outfits, blending tribal-specific patterns and colors with street-style sensibilities and bypassing the catwalk and the corporation. Many younger Native designers are activators, constantly responding to trends and current events by way of the internet and social media.

Provocoteurs: Some Native designers can be thought of as provocateurs. They embrace the experimental and erase boundaries between art and fashion. Their one-of-a-kind clothing and accessories demonstrate remarkable craftsmanship and at the same time hurl familiar materials and forms into an entirely new dimension. Some of these works stretch the concept of wearability. How would such garments feel? Can these clothes truly be worn? As these designers work from drape to pattern to fabrication, they deconstruct typical ideals of beauty while constructing new ones. Their fashions dance between the imposing and the delicate. These Provocateurs carry on a question-and-answer dialogue between material and concept, inviting viewers to engage with issues of identity, sovereignty and creativity.

Programming

A public opening reception is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, at 6 p.m. featuring a “Curator’s Conversation” with Kramer and Ash-Milby. Admission is free.

A symposium, “Native/American Fashion: Inspiration, Appropriation and Cultural Identity,” held in conjunction with the “Native Fashion Now” exhibition, will bring together Native and non-Native historians, fashion designers and artists working in the fields of fashion, law and indigenous studies. The expert speakers will address fashion as a creative endeavor and an expression of cultural identity, issues of problematic cultural appropriation in the field and examples of creative collaborations and best practices between Native designers and fashion brands. The symposium is co-sponsored with the Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York and takes place Saturday, April 22, 2017, from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free.

Publication

In association with the Peabody Essex Museum, DelMonico Books published in 2015 a 144-page catalog with 112 illustrations, Native Fashion Now: North American Indian Style, edited by Kramer with contributions by Jay Calderin, Madeleine M. Kropa and Jessica R. Metcalfe (Turtle Mountain Chippewa). ISBN-10: 2791354698.

The Coby Foundation Ltd. provided support for “Native Fashion Now.” Funding for the New York presentation of this exhibition and associated programming is made possible through the support of Ameriprise Financial. Additional funding provided by Macy’s.

 

All of the designers express their artistic agency, cultural identity and their unique personal perspective. “Native Fashion Now” is a dynamic, contemporary fashion scene that showcases both roots and cutting-edge, new paths. Runway footage, artist interviews and fashion photography communicate its immediacy throughout the exhibition.

“Native American art and culture are often perceived as phenomena of the past—or just mere replicas,” said Karen Kramer, Peabody Essex Museum curator of Native American and Oceanic art and culture, including the “Native Fashion Now” exhibition. “But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Contemporary Native fashion designers are dismantling and upending familiar motifs, adopting new forms of expression and materials, and sharing their vision of Native culture and design with a global audience.”

 

“Native Fashion Now” is organized by the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts. The Coby Foundation Ltd. provided generous support. The New York presentation of this exhibition and related programming is made possible through the generous support of Ameriprise Financial and the members of the New York Board of Directors of the National Museum of the American Indian. Additional funding provided by Macy’s.

About the National Museum of the American Indian

The National Museum of the American Indian, George Gustav Heye Center is located in the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House at One Bowling Green in New York City. For additional information, including hours and directions, visit AmericanIndian.si.edu. Follow the museum via social media on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. Join the conversation using #NativeFashionNow.

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July 10, 2017 - Posted by | ART, BUSINESS, CULTURE, ENTREPRENEURS, HOLIDAY GUIDES, LIFESTYLES, Uncategorized, We Recommend | , , ,

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