Review: Contemporary Indian art at museums in New York City

"This is not your tribal ancestors' child carrier.

On one side, Donald "Babe" Hemlock's "Ironworker Cradleboard" (2011) looks like the cozy abode devised by American Indians to swaddle an infant in fur-lined animal hide adorned with gut fringes. But the image on the front limns the Indians' more precarious 21st-century existence: Painted on the cradle's wood support is a Mohawk ironworker, balancing on one foot atop a construction girder that is vertiginously suspended over Times Square. While his right hand grips the girder, he daringly extends his left arm, as if poised to take a bow in his own bravura Broadway performance, more risky than any stunt in the "Spider-Man" musical advertised on a billboard below.

Expressly created for the Museum of Arts and Design's jarringly contemporary Indian exhibition, "Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation, 3," Mr. Hemlock's "Cradleboard" embodies the duality of contemporary Indian artists straddling two worlds—the rich history and cultural traditions of their ancestors and the edgy imperatives of contemporary life and modern artistic practice. According to Mr. Hemlock, himself a former ironworker, his two-sided piece "demonstrates the way we maintain balance in our world, while walking in yours, which hasn't always been easy." "

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Native, North American, New (The Wall Street Journal 8/7)

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