Exhibition of contemporary Indigenous Fellows opening at Eiteljorg Museum

Visitors will experience compelling, thought-provoking works of contemporary Native art in the new exhibition Shifting Boundaries, open at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art (Indianapolis) from November 13 to February 6, 2022. Five contemporary artists who are Native American or First Nations were chosen for the prestigious 2021 Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship. Shifting Boundaries features examples of the Fellows’ work that include innovative paintings, prints, mixed media and installations.

The website contemporaryartfellowship.eiteljorg.org is a hub of information about the Fellows and their art, as well as a look back at more than two decades of the Fellowship program. Public events on the exhibition’s opening weekend and during its run will appeal both to longtime aficionados of contemporary Native art as well as those new to the genre.

Selected by a panel of three art experts, the 2021 Eiteljorg Fellows include:

·         Invited artist Anita Fields (Osage / Muscogee), of Stillwater, Oklahoma, who is nationally recognized for her ceramic art and mixed media works. One of her ceramic pieces, Opposites Attract, currently is on view in another exhibition, Powerful Women II: Contemporary Art from the Eiteljorg Collection. The invited artist is selected for the Fellowship based on a lifetime of work.

·         Sonny Assu (Ligwilda’xw of the Kwakwaka’wakw Nations) of Campbell River, British Columbia, a painter, printmaker and installation artist.

·         Catherine Blackburn (English River Dene First Nation) of Thornhill, British Columbia, a multi-disciplinary artist, designer and jeweler whose work includes fashion, installation and mixed media.

·         Athena LaTocha (Húnjkpaphˇa Lakota / Keweenaw Bay Ojibwe) of Peekskill, N.Y., who creates large bold paintings inspired by or containing parts of landscapes

·         Steven Yazzie (Diné / Laguna Pueblo) of Denver, a painter who also creates video and installations, and has received numerous awards.

Steven Yazzie (Diné / Laguna Pueblo)  Nature Doesn’t Give a S--- About You, But it’s Sure Nice to Look At, 2020  Oil on canvas  Collection of the Eiteljorg Museum, Museum purchase from the Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship
Steven Yazzie (Diné / Laguna Pueblo), Nature Doesn’t Give a S— About You, But it’s Sure Nice to Look At, 2020. Oil on canvas. Collection of the Eiteljorg Museum, Museum purchase from the Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship.

Every other year since 1999, the Eiteljorg Fellowship has provided grants to a new class of five artists to support their continuing efforts in the contemporary art field. Each Fellow receives a $25,000 unrestricted grant, and the museum purchases more than $100,000 in art from the Fellows to add to its collection of contemporary Native art, considered one of the best such collections in the world.

“For 22 years, the Eiteljorg Fellowship has helped bring Native contemporary art to the forefront, casting a spotlight on the works of leading Native American and First Nations artists. The 2021 class of Eiteljorg Fellows is an exceptional group who have created intriguing works across a variety of disciplines — works that museum guests will want to experience,” Eiteljorg President and CEO John Vanausdall said. “The Fellows’ work underscores the vitality, imagination and innovation in today’s Native art, and will encourage dialogue about contemporary art.”

Four of the Fellows are scheduled to attend the exhibition’s opening weekend events, where the public can meet them in person:

·         Thursday Nov. 11, 5-8:30 p.m.: Fellowship Award Ceremony and Celebration at the museum. Reservations: $35 for museum members, $50 for non-members or $100 for Fellowship Fans. To register, contact Jennifer Hiatt at 317.275.1360 or jhiatt@eiteljorg.com.

·         Friday Nov. 12, 2:30-4 p.m.: Live streaming of an online discussion panel with the Fellows, conducted by IUPUI students. Register at https://eiteljorg.org/eiteljorg-events/shifting-boundaries-virtual-discussion-panel/.

·         Saturday Nov. 13, 9-10 a.m.: Members-only Coffee and Conversation at the museum with the artists. Register by contacting 317.275.1360 or jhiatt@eiteljorg.com.

·         Saturday Nov. 13: 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: A public gallery tour open to Eiteljorg visitors of the Shifting Boundaries exhibition, led by the artists, followed by a question-and-answer session in the museum’s Lilly Theater. Included with regular admission; museum members have free admission. Register at https://eiteljorg.org/eiteljorg-events/shifting-boundaries-exhibition-public-tour-and-qa/. (Museum members when registering should call 317.275.1360 for the Eventbrite code for free entry.)

On contemporaryartfellowship.eiteljorg.org are biographies of the artists and video interviews, along with highlights of the 10 prior rounds of the Fellowship and past years’ Fellows. The museum has published a full-color art catalog for Shifting Boundaries, featuring essays about each of the 2021 Fellows, available in the Museum Store. For additional public programs over coming months, visit eiteljorg.org/events.

“The Eiteljorg is thrilled to have this opportunity to continue to build the museum’s incredible collection of Native art, and we are honored to welcome these five accomplished artists as Fellows,” Eiteljorg Vice President and Chief Curatorial Officer Elisa Phelps said. “The museum’s longstanding commitment to contemporary Native art and artists was unique when the Fellowship program began, and it is exciting to see how the field has grown and evolved over more than two decades,”

This year’s exhibition is presented in remembrance of Jennifer Complo McNutt, the museum’s curator of contemporary art, who died recently. For each previous Fellowship, she organized the selection round, met with the Fellows, curated the exhibitions of their work and ultimately made a major impact on the world of contemporary art.

About the Eiteljorg

A cultural pillar for 32 years in downtown Indianapolis’ scenic White River State Park, the Eiteljorg Museum seeks to inspire an appreciation and understanding of the arts, histories and cultures of the Native peoples of North America and of the American West by telling amazing stories.

Located on the Central Canal at 500 West Washington St., the Eiteljorg is a 501c3 nonprofit organization. It was named one of the USA Today Readers’ Choice 10 Best Indiana Attractions. 

The Eiteljorg Museum is in full compliance with all state and local public health requirements for indoor gatherings. Guests are required to wear face masks and take other precautions.

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