A Blockbuster Year: Exhibitions Take Center Stage
Exhibitions took center stage at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in fiscal year 2021-2022 (July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022), with the museum continuing to break ground on a curatorial approach that departs from traditional non-Indigenous Western models. These were supported by $146,000 in private gifts to the museum via the Museum of New Mexico Foundation’s Exhibitions Development Fund and unrestricted gifts.
Clearly Indigenous: Native Visions Reimagined in Glass opened May 16, 2021, and ran through June 12, 2022. The exhibition showcased works by 33 Indigenous artists who re-interpreted in glass traditional Native stories and designs or concerns affecting Indigenous Nations. A companion catalog tells these stories and includes photos of most of the works on display.
When the first iteration of Here, Now and Always opened in 1997, it was considered revolutionary. It was the first museum exhibition of its kind that transferred expertise away from non-Native academics and scholars to a primarily Indigenous curatorial team. The new Here, Now and Always, which opened on July 2, 2022, centers on the Indigenous people it represents, reflecting the museum’s meaningful partnerships with Native communities. The reimagined permanent exhibition showcases more than 655 never- before-seen works from the museum’s collection, employing state-of-the-art technology and illustrating how the past informs the future from the vantage of the next generation.
“Here, Now and Always is the museum’s hallmark exhibition,” says Tony Chavarria (Santa Clara Pueblo), the museum’s curator of ethnology. “Both its rejuvenation and celebratory opening in July were inclusive with many participants from Native communities near and far.”
Museum exhibitions were also at the nexus of Native American events and activities in Santa Fe this spring and summer as the museum joined with more than 40 Native-focused cultural organizations under the umbrella of Indigenous Celebration New Mexico 2022 (IC22). In addition to Here, Now and Always and Clearly Indigenous, the museum’s hosting of Grounded in Clay: The Spirit of Pueblo Pottery, a collaboration of the Indian Arts Research Center of the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe and the Vilcek Foundation in New York, was featured. The museum’s debut of the exhibition, which runs through May 29, 2023, includes 12 works in clay from the museum’s collection.
Treasures and Transition
Other museum needs in FY22—including education programming and acquisitions—benefited from proceeds from the 19th Annual Native Treasures Art Market, held over Memorial Day weekend. Over 174 Native artists returned to the Santa Fe Community Convention Center to show and sell their works. Among them was Virgil Ortiz (Cochiti Pueblo), who was honored with the 2022 MIAC Living Treasure Award, which recognizes Native artists who have made outstanding artistic contributions to Indigenous arts and culture. An exhibition of Ortiz’s ceramics and photographic works are featured in ReVOlution: Virgil Ortiz, on view at the museum through April 1, 2023.
Native Treasures raised some $40,479 for the museum in FY22. Additionally, the Foundation’s Education Fund for the museum generated $9,615, while grants through the Foundation raised $179,707. Total private support for the museum in FY22 was $693,150.
A leadership transition also took place in FY22, with the retirement of Della Warrior, the museum’s executive director. In recognition of her eight years at the museum, the Della Warrior Endowment Fund was established to generate support for exhibitions and educational programs in the future. With Warrior’s departure, Melissa S. Powell was named deputy director. Powell’s experience includes more than 25 years at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology in Albuquerque.
This article and image are from the Museum of New Mexico Foundation’s Member News Winter 2022. Photo by © Mateo Perez.