On November 3 and 4, 2023, the Colby College Museum of Art and its Lunder Institute for American Art hosted a two-day symposium, in conjunction with the Painted: Our Bodies, Hearts, and Village exhibition, featuring exhibition collaborators, artists, curators, and scholars of Native American art, American art, and art of the American West.
Together, participants reflected on the relationship between art, shared histories, and lived experiences, incubating new paths within art history, art practice, and the museum field. Topics included how Native artists delve into historical collections to assert visual sovereignty, how to activate museum collections in new and reparative ways, collaborations between institutions and Native communities, and more.
Opening remarks from Jacqueline Terrassa, Carolyn Muzzy Director, Colby Museum and Dwayne Tomah (Passamaquoddy), followed by conversation.
Juan Lucero (Isleta Pueblo), exhibition co-curator, Program Manager for Native Art Professional Development, First People’s Fund
Jill Ahlberg Yohe, exhibition co-curator, Associate Curator of Native American Art, Minneapolis Institute of Art
Siera Hyte (Cherokee Nation), exhibition co-curator, Manager of Programs and Fellowships, Lunder Institute for American Art
Virgil Ortiz (Cochiti Pueblo), exhibition designer, artist
Theresa Secord (Penobscot), exhibition advisory council member, artist, founding director of the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance, First People’s Fund board of directors, Colby Museum board of governors
Moderated by Beth Finch, Head Curator, Colby Museum
Brian Vallo (Acoma Pueblo) served as governor of Acoma Pueblo in 2019–21, formerly directed the Indian Arts Research Center, and was the founding director of the Sky City Cultural Center and Haak’u Museum. He has spent more than thirty years working in museum development, repatriation of ancestors and cultural patrimony, cultural preservation, the arts, and tourism.
How do contemporary Native artists mine the historic record or reflect on the legacy of non-Native artists depicting Native people and cultures?
Jason Garcia (Santa Clara Pueblo), artist
Virgil Ortiz (Cochiti Pueblo), artist
Sarah Sockbeson (Penobscot), artist
Moderated by the exhibition curatorial team
Curators of Native American art and art of the American West discuss how museums can re-contextualize and re-present American and Native American art histories. How are curators thinking creatively about connecting and expanding collections?
Sháńdíín Brown (Diné), Henry Luce Curatorial Fellow for Native American Art, RISD Museum
J.R. Henneman, Denver Art Museum, Director and Curator of the Petrie Institute of Western American Art, Denver Art Museum
Davison Koenig, Executive Director and Chief Curator, Couse-Sharp Historical Site
Ramey Mize, Assistant Curator of American Art, Portland Museum of Art
Jami Powell (Osage Nation), Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs and Curator of Indigenous Art, Hood Museum of Art
Moderated by Jill Ahlberg Yohe
Painted: Our Bodies, Hearts, and Village is made possible through the support of the Terra Foundation for American Art and Colby Museum endowment funds provided by the Lunder Foundation and the Mellon Foundation, which supported the 2021–22 Lunder Institute Research Fellows Program.