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CCNA: Not Fragile

Sep 8, 2018 - Jun 9, 2019
1219 SW Park Ave, Portland, OR


Though often associated with delicacy, glass is forged through intense and violent forces—a meteorite impacting the earth, a nuclear bomb detonating, or a 2,000 °F crucible. Not Fragile features artists from across the Pacific Northwest who use glass in innovative ways to impart messages of strength, resilience, and insubordination. In this exhibition, artists underscore the power of traditional iconography, craft bold social statements, and reflect the beauty, vulnerability, and transformative power of glass.

Works in the exhibition include Lummi Lighting Bear (2018) by Dan Friday (Lummi), who has cultivated his artistic vision with strong influence from his indigenous roots in the Pacific Northwest. The bear has been an important spirit to his family, from his great grandfather’s Totems to his father’s drum. Through works like this, Friday embraces the large color palette glass has to offer. Joe Feddersen’s Aggressive Attitude (2018) blends traditional Plateau basket forms with a contemporary pattern derived from the markings of tires. These SUV patterns replace earlier depictions of the land like mountain or snake designs with the new marks left on earth. Feddersen (Okanogan/Arrow Lakes) is known for creating artworks strong in geometric patterns reflective of what is seen in the environment and his Native American heritage.

Artist curator RYAN! Feddersen (Okanogan/Arrow Lakes) is a Tacoma-based mixed-media installation artist who specializes in interactive and immersive artworks that invite audience engagement around history, culture, and social issues. Cultivating relationships with the contemporary indigenous art world has been a defining way that Feddersen connects with her cultural heritage. She is drawn to curation to support the thriving indigenous arts movement. Feddersen is a 2018 National Fellow in Visual Arts with the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation.

The Center for Contemporary Native Art was established through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and generous gifts from Mr. Mark J. and Dr. Jennifer Miller, Taffy Gould, Anonymous, and Exhibition Series Funders.

Special thanks to Key Bank Foundation, the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, and the Native American Art Council of the Portland Art Museum for their generous support of this exhibition and programming.

Semi-opaque glass receptacle with black geometrical decoration and a red rim


The Museum’s Center for Contemporary Native Art is a dedicated gallery for presenting the work and perspectives of contemporary Native artists. At the core of this Center’s mission is a commitment to centering the perspectives of Native artists, curators, and communities in developing exhibitions, interpretation, and programming for the space. The Center’s exhibitions parallel the institution’s larger curatorial vision of intentionally bridging the past and present through integrating more contemporary artwork into the Native American galleries. This approach allows visitors to take away a greater understanding of Native peoples as not only still living but as sophisticated, dynamic, and changing.