'Making New Traditions' opens at All My Relations Gallery

Forgotten Landscape by Keith Braveheart
Forgotten Landscape by Keith Braveheart

Since opening last year, All My Relations Gallery,  housed in the bright-yellow building on Franklin Avenue along the American Indian Cultural Corridor, has continually shown excellent work often incorporating -- and sometimes working against -- traditional practices by American Indian contemporary artists.

In "Making New Traditions," AMR continues this mission with a wonderful exhibition featuring the work of eight emerging Native artists who are grappling with both contemporary and traditional techniques. Sometimes satirical, at other times deeply emotional, the show includes paintings, mixed media, and sculpture, and works span from realism, to abstraction, to street art-inspired works.

There are some powerful pieces in the exhibit, such as Remembered Landscape by Keith Braveheart. In the work the artist alludes to an iconic photograph of Sioux leader Big Foot dying in the snow at the Battle of Wounded Knee. The figure's shape is clear in the piece, but it's painted over with bright red paint. Braveheart's piece suggests that, 122 years after the photograph was taken, Big Foot -- and an entire history -- has been erased and forgotten. 
'Scaffold of the first Indian hanging- Deadwood, South Dakota' by Keith Braveheart
'Scaffold of the first Indian hanging- Deadwood, South Dakota' by Keith Braveheart

Another powerful painting by Braveheart is Scaffold of the first Indian hanging-Deadwood, South Dakota, which depicts an image of Dorothy holding Toto next to empty scaffolding. Intensely satirical, Braveheart's piece juxtaposes Hollywood's Technicolor vision of mid-America with the atrocities that haunt its past. 

Henry Payer Jr.'s work adds some humor to the exhibit, including a painting of an American Indian in full tribal clothing, complete with headdress, on a horse, checking his cell phone. Titled Can You Hear Me Now?, the painting also shows the man holding an antenna with feathers hanging from it. Payer could be offering a commentary on what is seen as Native American culture, pointing out that even American Indians who continue with traditions and ceremonies live in the 21st century. As a contemporary artist, perhaps Payer is calling for American Indian people, and artists in particular, to be respected both for their heritage but also for what they can offer contemporary society.  
'Disconnect' by Layli Long Soldier
'Disconnect' by Layli Long Soldier

Layli Long Soldier wows with her mixed-media installation Disconnect, which includes a wire-mesh dress, decorated with bells made out of coke cans, and a belt that reads "I learned to stitch it but I cannot dance it." There are wire-sculpted birds at the foot of the dress, and in the background there is a text-based installation of Long Soldier's poetry. The artist's piece is an impassioned cry of longing, demonstrating the disconnect between individuality and tradition, especially concerning traditions and societies that don't mesh together. 

The exhibit also includes some gems such as an ink painting on a bed sheet by April Holder called It's About Time, some wonderful ceramic work by Marty Two Bulls, and work by Floyd Nez, Michael Schweigman, and Hoka Skenandore. 


"All My Relations Gallery"
1414 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis
Hours are Tuesday through Friday from noon to 6 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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