The Denver Art Museum (DAM) will exhibit Each/Other: Marie Watt and Cannupa Hanska Luger, from May 23, 2021, through Aug. 22, 2021, in the Gallagher Gallery on Level 1 of the DAM’s Hamilton Building. This represents the first exhibition to present together the work of Watt and Luger, two leading Indigenous contemporary artists whose processes both focus on collaborative artmaking.
Exploring the collective process of creation, Each/Other will feature 24 mixed media sculptures, wall hangings and large-scale installation works by Marie Watt (Seneca, Scottish, German) and Cannupa Hanska Luger (Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lakota and European), along with a new monumental artist-guided community artwork. While each artist’s practice is rooted in collaboration, they have never before worked together or been exhibited alongside one another in a way that allows audiences to see both the similarities and contrasts in their work.
“We are honored to serve as a platform for the incredible work of Marie Watt and Cannupa Hanska Luger, and to bring their collaborative approach to artistic creation to our community,” said Christoph Heinrich, Frederick and Jan Mayer Director of the DAM. “This exhibition underscores the museum’s ongoing commitment to supporting, presenting and collecting contemporary artists from the Indigenous community and around the world.”
Watt (b. 1967) is an America artist and citizen of the Seneca Nation based in Portland, OR whose practice explores multiple materials and the collaborative act of artmaking. Her artworks are held in the collections across the U.S. and Canada, including the Denver Art Museum, the Seattle Art Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Yale University Art Gallery, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, National Gallery of Canada, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian and Renwick Gallery, the Tacoma Art Museum, the Fabric Workshop and Museum, the Portland Art Museum and the Library of Congress.
Watt’s work draws primarily from history, biography, Iroquois proto-feminism and Indigenous principles, often addressing the interaction of the arc of history with the intimacy of memory. Based in Portland, Oregon, Watt was a Native Arts Artist-in-Residence participant at the DAM in 2013.
Butterfly, a large-scale and visitor favorite artwork by Watt, was acquired by the DAM in 2015 and will be on view in Each/Other. Her primary materials are often everyday objects that can carry extraordinary histories of use, such as blankets, which in her tribe (Watt is an enrolled citizen of the Seneca Nation) are given to those who bear witness to important life events.
In working with blankets, her process is both solitary and collaborative; her small works are often personal meditations and her larger works are made in community, notably in “sewing circles,” public events in which the fellowship and storytelling that takes place can be more important than the resulting object.
Watt exhibits internationally and is represented in Portland, Oregon by PDX Contemporary Art, in Seattle, Washington by Greg Kucera Gallery, and in New York by Marc Straus Gallery.
Watt holds an MFA in Painting and Printmaking from Yale University, attended Willamette University and the Institute of American Indian Arts, and in 2016 was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Willamette University.
Cannupa Hanska Luger
Luger (b. 1979) is a New Mexico-based interdisciplinary artist whose community-oriented artworks address environmental justice and gender violence issues. A citizen of the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation, Luger was born on the Standing Rock reservation in Fort Yates, North Dakota.
Using social collaboration in response to timely and site-specific topics, Luger produces multi-pronged projects that take many forms. Through monumental installations that incorporate ceramics, video, sound, fiber, steel and repurposed materials, Luger interweaves performance and political action to communicate stories about 21st century Indigeneity.
Luger has exhibited internationally including venues such as Princeton University Art Museum, Washington Project for the Arts, Art Mûr in Montreal, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Orenda Gallery in Paris, Autry Museum of the American West and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, among others.
He lectures, participates in residencies and large scale projects around the globe and his work is collected internationally. Luger holds a BFA in studio arts from the Institute of American Indian Arts and is represented by Garth Greenan Gallery in New York.
Nature, acquired by the DAM in 2015, along with other recent notable works by Luger will be on view in Each/Other, including a monumental sculptural installation from 2018 titled Every One . Created by people from hundreds of communities across the U.S. and Canada, this socially collaborative work is composed of over 4,000 individual handmade clay beads—each one representing a person who has been lost—and aims to re-humanize the data of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, queer and trans community members.
“Collaboration and the creative process are central to this exhibition and each of the artists’ work,” said John P. Lukavic, Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Native Arts at DAM and the show’s curator. “In today’s society, value is placed primarily on the noun ‘art’ and not the verb form, or act of creating. Together, Watt and Luger show us the ways in which art moves beyond the end-product, beyond a static or luxury item, to become the very process of creation itself—unbound and limitless. Foundationally, collaboration is such an important element to each artist, but each in their own different ways. Each/Other not only presents the results of Watt and Luger’s past collaborative projects, but invites us to be a part of the artists’ creative processes, and through that experience, to become aware of the world outside of our immediate and limited vision—recognizing that we are part of something greater and larger than ourselves. It is an important notion, especially in these times.”
The artists, along with the DAM, will soon distribute a video invitation that includes a call for community participation and instructions for how individuals can contribute. The public, with no limit on geographic location, will be invited to add to the work by physically sending what they create to the artists. Through this collaboration, it is the artists’ hope that participants discover something new about themselves, their neighbors, and the world around them, while leading to a greater sense of understanding between people. The artists will combine the sourced submissions into a work that will be on display in Each/Other. Join the conversation and be part of the exhibition before it opens on Twitter and Instagram with #EachOtheratDAM.
Each/Other will present the work of Watt and Luger divided into two sections that explore the artists’ engagement with community, materials and the land. The new collaborative piece will be located where the two artists’ works converge within the gallery. Works on view in Each/Other will consist of materials including carved wood, ceramic and fabric sculpture, photography, installation works with coconcertina and oil drums, video-based interpretive elements and documentation pieces to show past performance works by the artists.
Following its presentation at the DAM, Each/Other will travel to additional venues beginning in fall 2021. An illustrated color catalog will accompany the exhibition and include essays by exhibition curator John P. Lukavic and Jami Powell (Osage Nation), Associate Curator of Native American Art at the Hood Museum, Dartmouth, with an in depth edited interview with the artists by Namita Gupta Wiggers, Director of the Master of Art in Critical Craft Studies at Warren Wilson College. The catalog will tell a complex and nuanced story of Marie Watt and Cannupa Hanska Luger’s work while extending the themes explored in the exhibition.
This exhibition will be included in general admission, which is free for museum members and youth 18 and under every day. For the latest on new visitation, safety and cleaning procedures, please visit denverartmuseum.org.