Arts & Entertainment

KCUR: Modern and historic Indian art on display in Kansas City






“Valise" by Nellie Two Bear Gates is part of exhibition at Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo from Facebook

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art at Johnson County Community College are bringing historic and contemporary Indian art to audiences in Kansas City:
This fall, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art opens its blockbuster exhibition "The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky," with works ranging from a 2,000-year-old stone pipe to beaded designer shoes from 2011. To spark enthusiasm, three enormous teepees now compete with the Shuttlecocks on the Nelson’s south lawn.

Meanwhile, across town, the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kan., kept its "Contemporary American Indian Art" show up longer than originally scheduled. The audiences who come to Kansas City for the Nelson’s show can see, at the Nerman, what director Bruce Hartman says is the largest collection of contemporary American Indian art in the country.

The Nerman counts 130 works by 95 artists who are reinterpreting and reinventing Native cultural traditions.

For example, Clinton Work, from the Kwakwaka'wakw tribe in the Pacific Northwest, recreates a traditional clam-gathering basket. He uses dental-surgery tools to carve intricate totemic designs into a plastic five-gallon bucket – the kind Home Depot sells. The result is gorgeous, radiant white and strikingly … plastic.


Left to right: Wendy Red Star, The Four Seasons, 2006; Jeffrey Gibson, American Girl, 2013; Pamela Brown, Sneaking In, 2012. Photo from Nerman Museum

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At The Nerman, American Indian Art Is Contemporary (KCUR 8/21)