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Nov 6, 2021 - May 8, 2022
1219 SW Park Ave, Portland, OR
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Mesh features the bold work of four emerging and early career artists whose multidisciplinary work touches on current social issues including the ongoing fight against racial injustice and conflicts over Indigenous land rights. At the same time, through photography, painting, sculpture and mixed media they celebrate the ongoing presence of Native American art and culture and remind us that art is an essential form of activism.

An artwork of alternating brown and yellow lines and lines of triangles with black backgrounds on a natural colored paper with rough edges
Lehuauakea, Mana Māhū (2020), Oregon earth pigments and plant dyes on hand-beaten kapa, approx. 17 x 17 in. Photo by Mario Gallucci.

Ka’ila Farrell-Smith is a Klamath Modoc artist from Chiloquin, Oregon, whose selection from her recent, vibrant painting series Land Back draws from the aesthetics of graffiti as well as petroglyphs, using text and imagery as urgent messengers of warning and resistance. Embedded in the use of the customary Native Hawaiian practice of using ʻohe kāpala (carved bamboo printing tools), kapa (bark cloth), and natural pigments, Lehuauakea (Kanaka Maoli) a mixed-media artist from Portland and Hawaii, creates delicate yet powerful works that address racism and protest. The luminous photography of Leah Rose Kolakowski, a member of the Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, channels strength, beauty and cultural resilience in the face of cultural and existential threats. Painter Lynnette Haozous, a Chiricahua Apache artist and member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe with Diné, and Taos Pueblo ancestry, will install a temporary 20-foot mural in the gallery, created for the exhibition. 

A gallery wall with a row of hanging artworks. The two closest to the viewer are photographs of Native women with their eyes closed, one in traditional dress against a cloudy sky and the other against a background of blue and red color washes

Together this dynamic art, which meshes together tradition and contemporary culture, ancient techniques, and modern materials, presents a powerful statement about the next generation of Native artists. 

This Center for Contemporary Native Art exhibition is presented in the Museum’s Jubitz Center for Modern and Contemporary Art. Curated by Kathleen Ash-Milby, Curator of Native American Art. Supported in part by Native Arts & Cultures Foundation and the Museum’s Native American Art Council.

“The exhibition radiates life, beauty, and tenacity. Through various materials, the artists collectively delve into connections to land and to community, pushing back against colonizing forces, and reclaiming their own narratives and power.”

Julie Schneider, Hyperallergic


YouTube screenshot of the video "The Artist as Activist"
The Artist as Activist

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