Indigenous North American Art on view in the Triangle (and Beyond!)

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A painting of people in colorful clothes gathered around teepees and a tree

Multiple North Carolina museums and arts organizations in the Triangle and beyond will feature artwork by Indigenous North American artists this spring. The following information can serve as a guide for further exploration of area installations and deeper learning about a variety of Indigenous artists and making practices, past and present.

In addition to artwork on view, a wide variety of public programming is scheduled at the Ackland and at other local organizations that will highlight local and non-local Indigenous communities. Visit the Ackland’s event calendar for details and registration, and visit the Past Forward exhibition page for related exhibitions and events at area organizations.

February 16 – April 28, 2024
Past Forward: Native American Art from Gilcrease Museum
Ackland Art Museum, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Oklahoma’s Gilcrease Museum houses one of the best and most comprehensive collections of Native American art in the country, largely built by a collector who was himself a member of the Muscogee Nation. This unprecedented traveling exhibition emphasizes Indigenous art from the heartland from the late nineteenth century to the present day, supplemented by ancient stone carvings and by a handful of contrasting Euro-American works. Arranged into four stimulating sections exploring transhistorical themes of ceremony, sovereignty, visual abstraction, and identity, Past Forward amplifies Indigenous voices and affirms the centrality of Native American art to American art history. The exhibition is co-organized by the American Federation of Arts and Gilcrease Museum.

January 10 – May 12, 2024
Ackland Upstairs
Ackland Art Museum, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
In Ackland Upstairs, located on the second floor of the Museum, the Ackland staff collaborates with UNC-Chapel Hill faculty to create installations that support their courses, drawing from the tens of thousands of artworks stored in the Museum’s vaults. This semester, Ackland Upstairs will feature a selection from our own collection of Indigenous art, ranging from an eighteenth-century Cherokee jackal pipe to contemporary editions. Pick up an accompanying self-guide for more information about the artworks and thinking questions to guide your engagement.

A red clay bowl decorated with drawing around the top border







March 2 – July 8, 2024
To Take Shape and Meaning: Form and Design in Contemporary American Indian Art
North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC
To Take Shape and Meaning is organized at the North Carolina Museum of Art by guest curator Nancy Strickland Fields (Lumbee), director/curator of the Museum of the Southeast American Indian at UNC Pembroke. The exhibition will feature work by artists Teri Greeves (Kiowa) and Keri Ataumbi (Kiowa), who will also join us at the Ackland for a conversation about contemporary Native American art during the 2nd Friday ArtWalk on April 12. Greeves and Ataumbi are the spring 2024 Caldwell Artists-in-Residence in the Department of American Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill. With a focus on form and design, this exhibition serves as an engaging complement to Past Forward: Native American Art at Gilcrease Museum. Events related to To Take Shape and Meaning at the NCMA can be found on the exhibition page linked in the title above.

Contemporary Indigenous Art of North Carolina Initiative
VAE (Visual Art Exchange), Raleigh, NC
Read more about this initiative and call for art that began in 2023 with the goal of centering contemporary Indigenous American artists living or based in North Carolina. The initiative will explore Indigenous identities though exhibitions, public programs, and a related publication in 2024. Visit the VAE website to learn more about eligibility and how to submit artwork for the open call.

The Museum of the Southeast American Indian, The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, Pembroke, NC
The Museum of the Southeast American Indian is part of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Nancy Strickland Fields (Lumbee), guest curator of To Take Shape and Meaning: Form and Design in Contemporary American Indian Art at the NCMA, is the director and curator of the MSEAI. The MSEAI’s mission “is to educate and serve the public about the prehistory, history, culture, art and contemporary issues of American Indians, with special emphasis on the Native American communities of Robeson County, of North Carolina and of the American Southeast; to conduct scholarly research; to collect and preserve the material culture of Native America; to encourage American Indian artists and crafts persons; and to cooperate on a wide range of research and service projects with other institutions and agencies concerned with American Indians.” If you are unable to visit the MSEAI in person, be sure to explore their digital exhibition Leaving Home, Building Community.

Image credits:

First image: Stephen Mopope (Kiowa, 1898-1974), Indian Gathering, 1933, oil on canvas, 22 1/2 x 48 in. (57.2 x 121.9 cm). Gift of the Thomas Gilcrease Foundation, 1964. Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, OK.

Second image: Unidentified artist, Zia Pueblo, Dough Bowl, c. 1890, earthenware, 10 3/8 × 16 1/2 in. (26.4 × 41.9 cm). The Hugh A. McAllister, Jr., M.D. Collection, 2019.15.33.