Published: 1/4/2022 16:39:51
Modified: 1/4/2022 16:39:11
With both beautiful and challenging works, This Land: American Engagement with the Natural World forces viewers to reflect on their own relationship to place and country through historical and contemporary art by native and non-native artists. This groundbreaking exhibition, taken exclusively from the Hood Museum of Arts collection, is the museum’s first major installation of traditional and contemporary Native American art put together with early to contemporary art by African American, Asian American, Euro-American and Latin American artists. It is also the first thematic, rather than chronological, installation of the museum’s historic American collection. By incorporating a host of artistic responses to the natural world from the early 19th century to the present, This Land participates in a long-awaited expansion of what is “American” art in the museum field.
The director of the Hood Museum of Art, John Stomberg, said, “This Land opens new doors to art and cultural history, and boldly faces the complicated and often painful conditions that have shaped American art today. This exhibition encourages dialogue and historical rethinking, while presenting deeply evocative art of astonishing beauty. “
Exhibition curator Jami Powell, Hood Museum’s curator of native art, says: “As a curated project in collaboration, This Land: American Engagement with the Natural World raises as many questions as it answers. This exhibition encourages us to consider our relationship to the natural world and our hopes for its future. It is also a project that we hope will encourage our colleagues to ask difficult questions and engage in meaningful dialogues about what constitutes ‘American’ art, as well as who has the power to define it. “
The exhibition’s curatorial team also includes former Jonathan Little Cohen Curator of American Art Barbara J. MacAdam, former Curator of American Art Thomas Price, and former DAMLI Native American Art Fellow Morgan E. Freeman, as well as current Jonathan Little Cohen Associate Curator of American Art Michael Hartman .
This Land includes seven powerful thematic installations:
■ “An Ecocritical Lens” examines the effects of resource extraction and environmental degradation through modern photography.
■ “Knowing Nature” looks at the natural world from a variety of perspectives – scientific, aesthetic, personal, municipal, spiritual and political. Works ranging from an exquisitely detailed pastel by John James Audubon to Jamie Okuma’s colorful, intricate pearl work reflect deep knowledge passed down orally from generation to generation, or technical information acquired through book learning, fieldwork and formal or informal artistic training.
■ “Sustenance” explores food collection in terms of concepts of necessity, abundance, nourishment, and labor, and includes prints by Romare Bearden and Elizabeth Catlett; photographs by George A. Tice; and a signed stoneware jug by the enslaved potter David Drake.
■ “Expansion, Encounter, and Exchange” explores the doctrine of Manifest Destiny – the belief that colonial expansion across the continent was both inevitable and predetermined – by recontextualizing works by Thomas Cole, Charles Russell, Elizabeth Hickox, and others.
■ “Power of Place” explores how both individual and municipal connections to the landscape are expressed through the iconic photographs of national parks by Ansel Adams and depictions of city centers by modern New York-based Dominican artists, including Alex Guerrero, Scherezade García, and Yunior Chiqui Mendoza.
■ “Force of Nature” shows how elements of nature can be beneficial in moderation but destructive in extremes, as depicted in the work of, among others, Chris Jordan, Severa Tafoya and Ken Gonzales-Day.
■ “Reimagining American Landscapes” demonstrates how contemporary artists such as Faith Ringgold, Arthur Amiotte, Fred Wilson and Michael Namingha extend the visualization of the United States beyond the more conventional landscapes that often represent the nation.
This Land joins a targeted group of exhibitions that question knowledge and the American landscape at the Hood Museum of Art for the first half of 2022. This includes i.a. Form and relation: Contemporary native pottery, whose artists use the earth or clay as a central organizing medium and draw not only on its materiality but also the knowledge embedded in it. Unbroken: Native American Ceramics, Sculpture and Design, curated by Diversifying Art Museum Leadership Initiative trainees in Native American art Dillen Peace ’19 (Diné) and Hailee Brown ’20 (Diné), explores themes of continuity, innovation and indigenous knowledge across time. In addition, the adjacent installation BOARD: Logbook 20 | NEBULOUS, by Shinnecock ceramist and multimedia artist Courtney M. Leonard, invites viewers to a dialogue about the violence we perpetuate against the aquatic ecosystem through the impact of “ghost fishing” that occurs when discarded aquaculture traps and nets are left in open water.
This Land runs from January 5 through July 24 and will occupy four galleries in the museum. It was organized by the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth, and generously supported by a gift from Claire Foerster and Daniel Bernstein, class in 1987. Related winter programming at the museum will include an evening for educators, an adult workshop and a conversation with artist Cara Romero, as well as the winter exhibition’s opening celebration; visit hoodmuseum.dartmouth.edu for details.