“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 volumerenders 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.
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
All pieces by Dana Claxton. Images courtesy of the artist
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
Beau Dick, “Volcano Woman” (c. 2005), red cedar, acrylic, and horsehair, 24 x 20 x 10 inches. Image courtesy of Fazakas Gallery, Vancouver
Both pieces by Caroline Monnet. Images courtesy of the artist
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
Nicholas Galanin, “Never Forget” (2021), iron, paint, and steel, 59 x 360 feet. Image courtesy of the artist and Peter Blum Gallery, New York
Raven Halfmoon, “Hey’-en, Ina, Ika” (2020), stoneware and glaze, 58 x 48 ½ x 19 inches. Image courtesy of the artist