The Land Carries Our Ancestors: Contemporary Art by Native Americans

Steven Yazzie (Diné/Pueblo of Laguna, New Mexico/European descent), "Orchestrating a Blooming Desert," 2003, Oil on canvas, Collection of Christy Vezolles. © 2003 Steven J. Yazzie. All rights reserved. Courtesy of the Heard Museum, photo by Craig Smith
 Steven Yazzie (Diné/Pueblo of Laguna, New Mexico/European descent), "Orchestrating a Blooming Desert," 2003, Oil on canvas, Collection of Christy Vezolles. © 2003 Steven J. Yazzie. All rights reserved. Courtesy of the Heard Museum, photo by Craig Smith,

ABOUT THE EXHIBITION

The Land Carries Our Ancestors: Contemporary Art by Native Americans

Curated by artist, educator, editor, activist, and writer Jaune Quick-to-See Smith (Citizen of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Nation), The Land Carries Our Ancestors: Contemporary Art by Native Americans highlights artworks by nearly 50 living Native artists that powerfully visualize Indigenous culture and knowledge of the land. Brought together by Smith, this multigenerational, diverse group of artists works across the United States and spans a range of practices, including weaving, beadwork, sculpture, painting, drawing, photography, performance, and video. Their means of making reflects the diversity of Native expression according to individual, regional, and cultural identities. At the same time, these works share a worldview informed by a reverence and concern for the land. 

The Land Carries Our Ancestors is organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., where it was on view from September 22, 2023, through January 15, 2024. It was the first exhibition of Native art presented at the National Gallery of Art in 30 years and the first exhibition of contemporary Native art in 70 years. It will be on view at the New Britain Museum of American Art from April 19 through September 15, 2024. 

The exhibition will be accompanied by a range of programs and events, to be announced at a later date. A related book published by the National Gallery in association with Princeton University Press features each artist; a poem by Joy Harjo (Muscogee [Creek] Nation), 23rd US poet laureate; an essay by heather ahtone (Choctaw/Chickasaw Nation), director of curatorial affairs at the First Americans Museum; an essay by Jaune Quick-to-See Smith; and an essay on the art in the exhibition by Shana Bushyhead Condill (Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians), executive director of the Museum of the Cherokee People. 

ABOUT JAUNE QUICK-TO-SEE SMITH: 

Jaune Quick-to-See Smith is a citizen of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Nation of Montana. She grew up on several other reservations in the Pacific Northwest and always returned to her relations on the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Reservation in Montana. She holds a BA in art education from Framingham State College (now Framingham State University) in Massachusetts and an MA in visual arts from the University of New Mexico. In addition, Smith has been awarded honorary doctorates from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Massachusetts College of Art, and the University of New Mexico for her work and outreach to a wide spectrum of audiences. Smith’s roles as artist, teacher, curator, and activist have resulted in hundreds of exhibitions over the course of 50 years, featuring both her work and that of other artists across the United States and in Europe. 

A prolific artist, Smith makes work that includes imagery and objects from everyday life, past and present, and invites close reading to challenge received notions and cultural signs referencing Native Americans.

 

Please Note: This exhibition includes audio files of the artists talking about their works. To listen to these recordings, you need a smartphone to scan the QR codes, and we recommend bringing earbuds/headphones. 

 

Related Programming

Artist Talk featuring a conversation with Neal Ambrose-Smith and John Hitchcock supported by the Sullivan Lecture Fund
Thursday, April 18, 4 p.m.

Members Opening Reception | The Land Carries Our Ancestors: Contemporary Art by Native Americans
Thursday, April 18, 5 p.m.

Walk-In Tours | The Land Carries Our Ancestors
Sundays at 1 p.m. | April 21 - June 30

Jean Holden Fund Distinguished Teaching Artist Workshop | Natural Land Cultural Space: Mapping the Self in Spacetime with TLisza Jaurique and Marcus Zilliox
Saturday, May 11, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Film | Native America - Part 1: From Caves to Cosmos
Sunday, June 16, 2-3 p.m.

Lecture | Natural Land Cultural Space: Indigenous Aesthetics and Mapping the Self in Spacetime with TLisza Jaurique and Marcus Zilliox
Sunday, June 23, 2-3 p.m.

Film | Native America - Part 2: Nature to Nations
Sunday, July 21, 2-3 p.m.

Film | Native America - Part 3: Cities of The Sky
Sunday, August 18, 2-3 p.m.

Poetry | Workshop with Marcus Zilliox
Wednesday, August 21, 2-3 p.m.

Film | Native America - Part 4: New World Rising
Sunday, September 15, 3:30-4:30 p.m.

 

Featured Press

Melissa Cole is at the New Britain Museum of American Art checking out their new exhibit
Great Day Connecticut, WFSB
, July 12, 2024

Melissa Cole visits the New Britain Museum of American Art to check out their new exhibit open through September
Great Day Connecticut, WFSB
, July 12, 2024

A new look at contemporary Native American art
Phil Hall, Westfair Business Journal, January 18, 2024

Sponsors:

The Land Carries Our Ancestors: Contemporary Art by Native Americans is organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington.

In New Britain, this exhibition is presented by Stanley Black & Decker, The Aeroflex Foundation, The David T. Langrock Foundation, and The Edward C. & Ann T. Roberts Foundation. Generous funding has been provided by Arbella Insurance Foundation; Logan Milliken, Peter Rogers, and the Bristle Cone Pine Foundation; The Gong-Graham Family; and The O’Neil Family – Baltimore, MD.

Additional support provided by Charles and Irene Hamm, Claudia I. Thesing, Linda Cheverton Wick and Walter Wick, Dr. Timothy P. McLaughlin & Dr. Marian Kellner, the Bailey Family Fund for Special Exhibitions. Programming is supported by Evan R. Cowles & Brie P. Quinby; Mary Jane Dunn; and Christine E. Moser Foundation.