Molly Murphy Adams beadwork at Missoula Art Museum

Missoula Art Museum presents Molly Murphy Adams: The Space Between in the Lynda M. Frost Contemporary American Indian Art Gallery. Adams (descendant, Oglala/Lakota) explores Indigenous beadwork historically, philosophically, and visually. The artist uses landscape photographs as a foundation material for beadwork art and also examines the form through assemblages and abstract grids.

“Mixed media beadwork is the most authentic means of storytelling for me,” Adams said. “The hybridization of technique, imagery, and materials accurately tell my story of mixed blood ancestry, contemporary struggle, and gender roles. And that struggle for authenticity is the core of my work.”

Adams was born in Great Falls, raised in western Montana, and now resides in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She learned beadwork at a very early age. Much of her work stems from combining traditional Native arts and contemporary art. As an exhibiting artist, scholar, and community-maker and advocate, Adams specializes in contemporary sculptural beadwork.

Both as an undergraduate earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts at University of Montana and as a master’s student in art history at University of Oklahoma, she has undertaken research to reclaim personhood for Native artists, especially women.

Adams also makes work with a sense of humor. She is one of the artists commissioned to make irreverent beaded medallions for the hit Indigenous television series, Reservation Dogs, created by Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi for FX Productions.

MAM presented Murphy Adam’s first solo exhibition in 2008 and collaborated on her MATRIX Press residency in 2017, including the resulting prints in the 2018 group exhibition, The Shape of Things: John Hitchcock, Molly Murphy Adams, Sara Siestreem, Duane Slick. Adams has exhibited and has work collected in museums and galleries in many states across the U.S. and has received multiple awards and commissions.

MAM invites the public to meet the artist at a November 2 artist talk and at the museum’s November 3 First Friday celebration of The Space Between, which features live music and a no-host bar from 5 to 8 PM. 

Molly Murphy Adams: The Space Between runs through January 8, 2024.

About the Missoula Art Museum

Founded in 1975 and accredited by the American Alliance of Museums since 1987, MAM is emerging as the leading contemporary art museum in the Intermountain West. MAM is a fully accessible, free public museum boasting eight exhibition spaces, a library, and an education center in the heart of Missoula’s historic downtown.

MAM is situated on the traditional, ancestral territories of the Séliš (Salish or “Flathead”) and Ql̓ispé (upper Kalispel or Pend d ’Oreille) peoples in Missoula, Montana, USA. MAM is committed to respecting the indigenous stewards of the land it occupies. Their rich cultures are fundamental to artistic life in Montana and to the work of MAM.

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