When Angela Two Stars began her gallery tour at All My Relations Arts, she mentioned something unique about the current exhibition, “Changing Horizons.”
It’s Native art, and it has everything to do with identity, but you probably wouldn’t know it unless someone told you, she said.
The exhibition is in celebration of artist George Morrison’s 100th birthday. Morrison, who worked alongside Jackson Pollock and Michael Cline, was an inspiration for many Native American artists nationwide.
It was carefully curated to represent pieces inspired by Morrison’s art, as well as artwork that represents modern-day Native American art.
“I wanted to contemplate those experiences he had as an artist,” Two Stars said. “His work didn't fit into either art world at the time. It wasn’t Native enough for Native art exhibits, but he wasn't receiving the same attention as his contemporaries.”
Morrison created visual art that centered on the idea of the horizon and its significance in the Native American community.
“When we speak about our art, it’s definitely part of us and that comes out in the art,” said Tamara Aupaumut, co-curator of the exhibition. “I think it's hard to not have your culture show through your art.”
Morrison was not only an inspiration, but a mentor to some artists.
“He was a teacher and an inspiration for Native artists to do work that was not typical Indian art,” said Morrison’s son, Briand Morrison. “We're talking about Indian art being pictures of feathers and birds and horses and that kind of thing.”
These preconceived notions of Native art can be seen in many museums across the country. These pieces, although representative of some aspects of Native art and life, don’t capture the full spectrum of Native American identity.
"I brought up one of his more popular quotes where he said that he was an artist who happened to be an Indian,” Aupaumut said. “That conversation is very common in our community and so we just wanted to put that out there.”
One of the walls displays an oil and collage on canvas by Reyna Hernandez. It depicts several bodies with their faces obscured. On another wall, there is a colorful abstract portrait of George Morrison by artist Frank Big Bear.
A primary goal of Two Stars’ as the new curator of All My Relations Arts is to bring attention to problems that the Native community is facing.
“I want to explore the stories of my culture, but through this contemporary lens,” Two Stars said.
“Changing Horizons” is not Two Stars’ first curated exhibition. She brought together “Bring Her Home” at All My Relations Arts in spring 2018, which focused on missing and murdered Indigenous women.
“There's a lot of issues that we are able to address as artists,” Two Stars said. “We want to share that with a community that may not be aware of those issues and are able to come and be exposed to that which our community knows very well.”
The two gallery spaces that “Changing Horizons” inhabits generate different viewing experiences, but they share one message.
“Native artists are still dealing with those similar issues and complex identity dilemmas,” Two Stars said. “People project their assumptions of what Native art should look like, and we kind of want to push back against that imposed narrative and create dialogue on that experience.”
What: “Changing Horizons”
When: Sept. 9 – Nov. 1 at All My Relations Arts, Sept. 20 – Nov. 8 at Two Rivers Gallery
Where: All My Relations Arts, 1414 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis and Two Rivers Gallery, 1530 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis