‘An Indigenous Present’ Is a Paradigm-Shifting Illumination of Native North American Art Today — Colossal

September 12, 2023 - Art


#Indigenous culture
#Jeffrey Gibson

September 12, 2023

Kate Mothes

A pair of designer boots beaded with glass seed beads in the design of two elk.

Jamie Okuma, “Elk Boots” (2017), glass seed beads on Giuseppe Zanotti boots, 21 x 7 inches. Photo by Cameron Linton, courtesy of Ellen and Bill Taubman. All images © DelMonico Books, shared with permission

“Historically, books about contemporary Native and Indigenous art have often been composed of academic essays illustrated with artworks by Indigenous makers,” Jeffrey Gibson (previously) says in the introduction to An Indigenous Present. “The writing often references previously published texts that can be problematic and outmoded.” Released by DelMonico Books/Big NDN Press last month, the nearly 450-page volume renders solid a new paradigm of representation and visibility of Native North American art.

Works by more than 60 artists comprise the monumental survey, exploring myriad practices focused on and intersecting contemporary art, music, filmmaking, choreography, architecture, writing, photography, design, and more. The tome highlights the remarkable diversity of media and cultural influences across the continent, from fashion artist Jamie Okuma’s intricately beaded designer boots to Dana Claxton’s elaborate Headdress portrait series to Northwest Coast artist and Chief Beau Dick’s expressive masks. Gibson continues:

For An Indigenous Present, I wanted to make a lavish picture book (“sexy” was a word I used a lot to describe this project) that invites an audience to consider the creative and conceptual spaces artists need to think freely, disrupt the flow, take chances, make mistakes, and even fail in the process of creating something new.

Find your copy on Bookshop.


A geometrically patterned textile weaving.

Melissa Cody, “Dopamine Regression” (2010), 3-ply wool, aniline dyes, wool warp, and 6-ply selvedge cords, 70 x 48 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York

A book spread from 'An Indigenous Present' showing five portraits by Dana Claxton.

All pieces by Dana Claxton. Images courtesy of the artist

A painting of dozens of horses in colorful frames by Wendy Red Star.

Wendy Red Star, “Awaxaawippiia (Ominous Mountains)” (2021), acrylic, graphite, kitakata paper, and marble paper in 30 parts, overall: 112 x 183 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Sargent’s Daughters, New York

An ornate mask with Pacific Northwest Indigenous patterns, depicting the "Volcano Woman."

Beau Dick, “Volcano Woman” (c. 2005), red cedar, acrylic, and horsehair, 24 x 20 x 10 inches. Image courtesy of Fazakas Gallery, Vancouver

A spread from 'An Indigenous Present' featuring two pieces by Caroline Monnet.

Both pieces by Caroline Monnet. Images courtesy of the artist

A self-portrait by Meryl McMaster in the snow, wearing a headdress that looks like a giant bird's nest.

Meryl McMaster, “Dream Catcher” (2015), Giclée print, 32 x 66 inches. Image courtesy of the artist, Stephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto, and Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain, Montréal

A spread from 'An Indigenous Present' featuring a photograph by Nicholas Galanin in the desert with a sculpture resembling the Hollywood sign, which reads instead, "Indian Land."

Nicholas Galanin, “Never Forget” (2021), iron, paint, and steel, 59 x 360 feet. Image courtesy of the artist and Peter Blum Gallery, New York

A large-scale ceramic sculpture by Raven Halfmoon of three female figures in one form, smeared with red paint.

Raven Halfmoon, “Hey’-en, Ina, Ika” (2020), stoneware and glaze, 58 x 48 ½ x 19 inches. Image courtesy of the artist

The cover of the book 'An Indigenous Present.'

#Indigenous culture
#Jeffrey Gibson


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