Native Art in 1980s New York City

G. Peter Jemison
Alan Michelson
Moderated by Kathleen Ash-Milby

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Artists Space
55 Walker Street

A community of Native artists coalesced in Manhattan in the 1980s, initiating and participating in exhibitions locally and internationally. In the final public program organized as part of Unholding, curator and writer Kathleen Ash-Milby moderates a discussion with two eminent cross-disciplinary figures active in this period through to the present day: G. Peter Jemison and Alan Michelson.

Each of these artists participated in We the People, co-curated by Jean Fisher and Jimmie Durham at Artists Space in 1987, and is exhibiting work in Unholding, yet is known for a breadth of artistic and political pursuits. A collagist and deft draughtsperson, Jemison in 1978 became director of the American Indian Community House Gallery, moving the Community House to the emergent artistic nexus of SoHo. Following his early work as a painter, Alan Michelson’s installation Up-Biblum God at Artists Space in 1987 prefigured his shift to multimedia and site-specific art, through which he was to become increasingly attentive to place and locality amid the fracturing tendencies of globalization.

Maintaining numerous sightlines, Native Art in 1980s New York City will historicize a formative period within New York Native American contemporary art, asking what lessons can be taken into today’s resurgent dynamism of—and institutional engagement with—Indigenous practices.

Kathleen Ash-Milby is Associate Curator at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York.

G. Peter Jemison is a member of the Seneca Nation. He was the founding director of the American Indian Community House Gallery in New York City and formerly served on the board of directors of the American Association of Museums. He continues to represent the Seneca Nation of Indians on repatriation issues and serves on the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. He is currently the manager of Ganondagan State Historic Site in Victor, NY.

Alan Michelson is a Mohawk artist who has exhibited internationally, including at the Moscow Biennale, the National Gallery of Canada, the Biennale of Sydney, the Museum of Art and Design, and the National Museum of the American Indian. His work is in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Canada, Smithsonian Institution and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Native Art in 1980s New York City is organized in conjunction with the exhibition Unholding
(November 19, 2017 – January 21, 2018)

Videography by
Iki Nakagawa
Jason Hirata

Native Art in 1980s New York City