Modern art and American Indian culture

Over 100 artists are represented in the “Art Without Reservation” exhibit.

Betsy Graca

Ethnopoly, a revised Monopoly, tells life the way it really is: student loans, bankruptcy, racial relationships and the challenging, sought-after American Dream.

Ethnopoly is just one of the pieces of art displayed at the Weisman Art Museum’s newest exhibit, titled “Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation,” a second in the series displaying works from a variety of American Indian artists.

Art Without Reservation, organized by curators Ellen Napiura Taubman and David Revere McFadden, first began in New York City and has traveled across the country to make its finale at the Weisman.

An estimated 135 pieces of work, including paintings, sculptures, jewelry and more are displayed in the Museum until Jan. 13.

Six of the 150 artists presenting their work attended a preview event Thursday at the Weisman.

Artist Kevin Pourier said he first began creating art 15 years ago when he found a new awareness and quit his alcohol and drug habits.

Pourier said American Indian art is going in a new direction and beyond its traditions, demonstrated by the exhibit.

“It’s not just Indians chasing buffalo,” he said. “Or just beads, moccasins and crafts.”

Pourier also said his new work is more political and hopes it will create dialogue.

Diane Mullen, Weisman’s associate curator, said there is a new approach to showing American Indian art as contemporary and not just in an anthropological context.

She said the exhibit raises questions about the identity of being an American Indian today.

Robyn Carley, an art junior, said works such as Ethnopoly by Gerald Clarke make statements and stand out the most.

The mock board game isn’t the only bit of social commentary in the exhibit.

Another work entitled “Land O Bucks, Land O Fakes, Land O Lakes” by David Bradley, parodies the famous butter product image to critique contemporary culture.

However, not every artist wants to stray too far from tradition.

Karen Beaver, who displayed her work at the exhibit, said she likes to create both traditional and contemporary works.

Beaver first began creating small jewelry at age 12, but in 2004 began creating more symbolic works that express her personal vision.

“It’s a way of telling our story in a contemporary way,” she said. “I admire everyone’s vision to portray culture with their own contemporary interpretations.”

Local blues and rock band Blue Dog performed at the exhibit’s preview.

Percussionist Chuck Davis said he is a strong advocate for breaking barriers and bridging cultures, which he said the exhibit does well.

Davis said he feels fortunate to live in a time when a younger generation has captured the same energy as the open-minded 1960s.

Jill Boldenow, Weisman’s Public Program Assistant said it was important to connect with the American Indian community and mix emerging artists with those already established.

Pourier said some of the best artists in the world are displaying their work at the exhibit, helping to defeat stereotypes in America today.

According to Clarke’s artist statement, “Artwork is an experiment to get people talking about racial relations in America today.”