By Gene Davis, DENVER DAILY NEWS
With Native American art often being synonymous with baskets, jewelry and carvings, it’s refreshing to see an exhibition breaking the mold by focusing on contemporary art from the expansive indigenous community.
“Currents: Native American Forces in Contemporary Art” features the work of seven contemporary Native American artists. The exhibition, which is opening tonight at the Metropolitan State Center for Visual Art, is a far cry from the clichéd image that pops up when many people think of art created by a Native American.
“I think that so many people have this idea of Native American art in the traditional forms,” said Cecily Cullen, assistant director and curator for the Metropolitan State College of Denver. “It really is a culture that is alive and well and growing.”
The Metro State Center for Visual Art’s mission statement calls for presenting progressive contemporary art from artists of diverse backgrounds that will engage viewers in new ways of seeing. “Currents” fulfills the mission while providing a captivating exhibition at the same time, said Cullen.
“Currents” was partially curated by a work-study student who had an interest in learning how to curate a show, specifically one dealing with Native American art. After mulling over what such an exhibition could be like, the school did research on artists who were indigenous but fulfilled their goal of showing progressive contemporary art.
Two of the seven featured artists that the school decided to focus on — Nicholas Galanin and Melanie Yazzie — will be in attendance at tonight’s opening ceremony and will give short talks about their works. The event, which is open to the public, kicks off at 7 p.m.
“It’s a way to open your mind about what Native American art can be and should or shouldn’t be,” Cullen said. “Each of the artists addresses issues of contemporary society as well as indigenous cultures and heritages. It’s really kind of a show about identity.”
Where: Metro State Center for Visual Art, 1734 Wazee St.
When: Through Nov. 7
Distributed by Colorado Capitol Reporters