Native American artists have pushed the boundaries of what is considered traditional art for many years, often facing criticism for working with new materials or creating new designs. There is a perception that Native art is static; that it should never change, or is somehow less authentic with the introduction of new ideas and materials. But, what is traditional? Are glass beads, introduced by Europeans and purchased at trading posts, traditional? What about a basket made to hold eye glasses? Who decides, and how is that decision made?
As co-curator, Rick Hunt, Abenaki, relates,
"I am always impressed by how functional pieces can move toward decorative and purposeful design. In this show, it is evident that the pieces reflect a movement away from tradition and become a reflection of the artists’ own personal psychology. There are beautiful ash baskets and a Pop Art-type beaded bag, and even contemporary fashion design evolving from traditional northeast Native clothing.
When the first Twisted Path show was conceived, through a technicolor dream of mine, it was envisioned as an exhibit that would highlight the idea of the Native artist evolving and often struggling in this Westernized society. Questions about Native identity, spirituality, art, and traditions emerged. What was illustrated by that first show, and this one, is that Native people and our culture are very much alive and well and here to stay."
Twisted Path II continues the dialogue that introduced the broader society to the concept of the “modern Indian.” Native traditions have grown and evolved, allowing the adaptation and incorporation of new ideas, methods, and concepts into Native culture.
As a result, Native artists are allowed to step out of the confines of entrenched stereotypes in ways that let him or her maintain the integrity of their tribal identity. As such, Native artists are invited and encouraged to explore concepts of modern popular art that can contain distinctive yet subtle flavors of ancient cultures.
Twisted Path II: Contemporary Native American Art Informed by Tradition exhibits the work of five Wabanaki artists from New England. Their work, inspired by traditional materials, methods, and designs breaks from tradition in important ways, becoming a form of expression unique to each artist.
- Co-curators Rick Hunt and Raney Bench
Made possible in part by
and the Fisher Charitable Foundation
Special thanks to:
Diane E. Edgecomb
Indian Township Museum