National Gallery of Art: Virtual Symposium: The Land Carries Our Ancestors

Virtual Symposium: The Land Carries Our Ancestors
November 1–3
In this virtual symposium, artists, museum and university professionals, and others will discuss themes of reverence, study, and concern for the land. Speakers will include scholar Robin Wall (Citizen Potawatomi Nation) and artists Keith Braveheart (Lakota), Melissa Melero-Moose (Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe), and Gerald Clarke Jr. (Cahuilla Band of Indians).

On Wednesday November 1 from 1-2 pm EDT: Join us for a conversation with Joy Harjo, the 23rd United States Poet Laureate, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, curator of The Land Carries Our Ancestors, about the exhibition theme of reverence, study, and concern for the land. Harjo's poem "Once the World Was Perfect" from her 2015 book Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings is featured in The Land Carries Our Ancestors catalog. Molly Donovan, curator of contemporary art and exhibition consulting curator, will introduce the conversation.

Learn more about the Symposium here:

Register for the Keynote here:

Washington, DC–Artist Jaune Quick-to-See Smith (Citizen of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Nation) has curated The Land Carries Our Ancestors: Contemporary Art by Native Americans, an exhibition highlighting artworks by nearly 50 living Native artists that powerfully visualizes Indigenous knowledge of land/landbase/landscape. Brought together by Smith, works by this intergenerational group of artists from across the nation span a range of practices, including weaving, beadwork, sculpture, painting, printmaking, drawing, photography, performance, and video. Their interpretive expressions reflect the diversity of Native intellectual acuity according to individual, regional, and cultural identities. At the same time, these works share a worldview informed by thousands of years in reverence, study, and concern for the land.

In a dynamic presentation installed in the upper level of the National Gallery of Art’s East Building, the exhibition includes several recent acquisitions for the National Gallery’s permanent collection, including works by G. Peter Jemison (Seneca Nation of Indians, Heron Clan), Linda Lomahaftewa (Hopi/Choctaw), Marie Watt (Seneca Nation of Indians/European descent), and Emmi Whitehorse (Diné). As the first artist to curate an exhibition at the National Gallery, Smith underscores the self-determination, survivance, and right to self-representation of Indigenous peoples in her selection of artworks.

“I am honored to share these powerful works that demonstrate the vital, ongoing contributions of Native artists,” said Jaune Quick-to-See Smith. “‘Breaking the Buckskin Ceiling’ is not a smooth transition, but the National Gallery of Art is engaged with making change in their system of collecting art as well as demonstrating their ability to be more inclusive in their exhibitions. The Land Carries Our Ancestors is an example of more parity in their exhibition schedule, and we are very pleased to be a party of this change.”

The Land Carries Our Ancestors will be on view at the National Gallery of Art from September 22, 2023, through January 15, 2024, and at the New Britain Museum of American Art from April 18 through September 15, 2024. It is the first exhibition of Native art presented at the National Gallery in 30 years and the first exhibition of contemporary Native art in 70 years.

The exhibition is accompanied by a range of programs and events. A related book published by the National Gallery in association with Princeton University Press features each artist; a poem by Joy Harjo (Muscogee [Creek] Nation), 23rd US poet laureate; an essay by heather ahtone (Choctaw/Chickasaw Nation), director of curatorial affairs at the First Americans Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; an essay by Jaune Quick-to-See Smith; and an essay on the art in the exhibition by Shana Bushyhead Condill (Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians), executive director of the Museum of the Cherokee Indian in Cherokee, North Carolina.