'Eight Decades of Native Painting' Now Open

Dick West (Southern Cheyenne, 1912–1996), “Spatial Whorl”, 1949–1950. Oil on canvas. Gift of Dwight D. Saunders, 2004. (26/5102)

“Stretching the Canvas: Eight Decades of Native Painting,” which opened this month at the National Museum of the American Indian, presents works by 30 artists who have defied attempts to pigeonhole Native art.

“Stereotypes of Native people and romanticized or even caricatured notions have been imposed upon and controlled so many facets of our artistic expression,” said Kevin Gover (Pawnee), the museum director is quoted as saying in the sows press release. “Ironically, however, these structures of repression are often the impetus for the creation of many artists’ best work, because the desire to exist on their own terms is a potent form of resistance.”

“Stretching the Canvas” illustrates how Native painters of the early 20th century were committing revolutionary acts the moment they picked up paintbrushes and produced work—moving away from basketry and ceramics, the more familiar mediums in the market. This revolution continues to evolve, creating with it modes of expression that refuse myopic interpretation.

The museum is at One Bowling Green. For more information, click here.