Newberry Consortium in American Indian Studies

From July 11 to August 6, 2016, I participated in the summer institute at the Newberry Consortium in American Indian Studies in Chicago. This year’s institute led by professors Kate Wisecup and Kathleen Washburn focused on “Writing Indigenous Histories: Print, Material, and Digital Sites of Memory.”

Besides accessing the Newberry Library’s archives for dissertation research,  I wrote a research paper and gave a conference presentation during the Newberry’s graduate student conference. Entitled “Art or Ethnography: The Politics of Display and the Entangled Messages of the 1939 Indian Court at the Golden Gate International Exposition,” my presentation analyzed a slide reel on the 1939 exposition in the Newberry’s archive.


Rick Bartow talk: Yale University Art Gallery

On June 10, 2016, I gave a gallery talk at the Yale University Art Gallery, in conjunction with the recent installation of five works on paper by American artist Rick Bartow (1946-2016).

The Yale University Art Gallery has seven works on paper by Bartow, dating from 1985 to 1989. These early works are from the Richard Brown Baker collection and have not been exhibited before. Fellow PhD candidate Sequoia Miller and I proposed the installation and wrote the gallery text.

The audience for the afternoon talk included a wonderful group of Yale students, faculty, and New Haven residents. The accompanying photo features Yale Native students and me.

Bartow Talk June 10 Native Students

“Gallery Talk, A Pacific Coast Artist: The Life and Art of Rick E. Bartow”

Friday, June 10, 2016, 1:30 pm

Raised along the Oregon coast, artist Rick E. Bartow (1946–2016), a member of the Wiyot tribe of northern California, incorporated the Pacific Coast environment into his unique figurative drawings. Focusing on works by Bartow in the Gallery’s collection on view in the Jane and Richard Levin Study Gallery, Anya Montiel, Ph.D. candidate in American Studies, discusses how Bartow’s life and homeland informed his works.


Article on Artist Athena LaTocha

The summer issue of American Indian magazine, published by the National Museum of the American Indian, features my article on painter Athena LaTocha. While she lives and works in New York, LaTocha was born and raised in Alaska. For her art practice, she does not use brushes but, instead, utilizes bricks and tire shreds to move the paint on the canvas.

This is my 20th article for the magazine. I hope you enjoy it!

Athena LaTocha (Summer 2016)



Native Art in History Today

Many thanks to Rhys Griffiths and History Today for its article on “Native America’s Post-war History in Ten Works of Art.” I feel privileged that four of my suggestions were included in the list of ten.

Rhys contacted me in February about his upcoming feature which would be a “primer of 20th century Native American history, as seen through its cultural artefacts…[through] a chronological list of 10 works of art (paintings, records, books, films, etc.).” I submitted four artworks that I consider to be seminal works on multiple levels (subject matter, style, medium, public response, etc.). I guess he agreed with all of my suggestions! History Today is a monthly magazine based in London whose aim is “to bring serious history to a wide audience.”

I hope people in England and elsewhere learn more about Native expressive arts.



Essay in the Oxford Handbook

I am honored to have contributed an essay to The Oxford Handbook of American Indian History edited by Frederick E. Hoxie. I wrote the chapter (#23) on “Native American Expressive Arts,” and Oxford University Press released the handbook this month (April 2016). I appreciated the opportunity to provide an overview of Native American art history and to be included with such wonderful scholars.

Opening with the life and art of Dakota artist Oscar Howe, the chapter discusses the
“Indianness” of Native art and the frustrations experienced by Native artists over the
years surrounding their creative expressions. The chapter is arranged chronologically,
opening in the late nineteenth century and highlighting sample exhibitions, artworks, and
artists from the United States in order to illustrate broad conceptual issues. These
include Indian authenticity and identity, differences between fine art and “crafts,”
traditional versus contemporary art forms, the role of the arts in economic development,
and the impact of federal power on the arts. The chapter draws examples from painting,
sculpture, photography, video, and performance art. It concludes with a proposal for
understanding Native art inspired by the words of Santa Clara artist Rose Simpson.


Symposium Paper: Entangled Antipodes

I am presenting my research on metal gorgets given to Native North Americans and Australian Aboriginals at the “Entangled Antipodes: Negotiating Art and Empire in Australasia” symposium at Yale University. My research draws from my research trip to Australia in summer 2015 and interviews with contemporary indigenous artists in Australia and the United States.

Friday, February 12, 2016
10:00 am
“Presentations of Colonial Power: The Narrowing of Indigeneity between
Aboriginal King Plates and North American Gorgets”
Entangled Antipodes_Poster_1.19.16-page-001


National Museum of the American Indian Blog Posts

In December 2015, I finished my six-month curatorial residency at the Cultural Resources Center of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI). During that time I examined the artworks and records of the Indian Arts and Crafts Board (IACB) Headquarters collection.

Created in 1935, the IACB “promotes the economic development of American Indians and Alaska Natives…through the expansion of the Indian arts and crafts market.” Numbering more than 6,300 artworks from its headquarters office, the collection is an amazing record of artistic movements, regional styles, and experimental projects produced by hundreds of Native artists from the 1930s through the 1990s.

The collection was transferred to the NMAI in 2000 from the U.S Department of the Interior, and it contains a wide range of items, including baskets, ceramics, beadwork, textiles, paintings, sculptures, and mixed media works. Since the IACB’s mission is economic development enterprises for American Indians and Alaska Natives, many pieces were produced for the tourist market.

Research can be isolating, and I wanted to share my findings with others, especially the Native communities who produced the artworks. The NMAI allowed me to write for the museum’s blog and highlighted artworks from the collection. It was a wonderful opportunity to inform others about the stories and artists behind the artworks.

During my residency, I wrote ten blog posts. The links are below.

IACB Headquarters Collection Blog Posts:

  1. The Indian Arts and Crafts Board: Introduction and Tohono O’odham Bowl (published 26 August 2015)

  2. The Indian Arts and Crafts Board: Mukluks (published 3 September 2015)

  3. The Indian Arts and Crafts Board: The Pomo Indian Women’s Club (published 10 September 2015)

  4. The Indian Arts and Crafts Board: The Shungnak Jade Project (published 26 September 2015)

  5. The Indian Arts and Crafts Board: Catawba Pottery (published 14 October 2015)

  6. The Indian Arts and Crafts Board: Stockbridge–Munsee Arts and Crafts Enterprise (published 23 October 2015)

  7. The Indian Arts and Crafts Board: For Halloween, a Spooktacular Navajo Rug (published 29 October 2015)

  8. The Indian Arts & Crafts Board: Otellie Loloma (published 10 November 2015)

  9. The Indian Arts and Crafts Board: Native-Designed Fabrics (published 30 November 2015)

  10. The Indian Arts and Crafts Board: The Seeganna Family (published 17 December 2015)