Innovative new works added to the Contemporary Native American Art Collection

In FY 2016-2017, NYSM acquired eight stunning new artworks by artists previously not represented in the Contemporary Native American Art Collection (part of the Ethnology Collections). The selections, from artists with nascent and well-established careers include: Noel Chrisjohn Benson (Oneida), Dawn Dark Mountain (Oneida Wisconsin), Jeremy Dennis (Shinnecock), Luanne Redeye (Seneca), and Gail Tremblay (Onondaga/Micmac).

The new works showcase a variety of mediums, innovatively threaded together in three dimensional and two dimensional form. Gail Tremblay’s Haudenosaunee strawberry fancy basket, “Dreaming of Wild Foods,” follows traditional splint basket form and aesthetic, yet it is woven entirely of film; Jeremy Dennis uses digital photography to create a critical visual commentary on representations of Shinnecock history embedded in the Long Island landscape in “Nothing Happened #2.” Noel Benson’s exquisite Haudenosaunee Condolence Cane seizes the viewer’s attention with his distinctive addition of a fierce Eagle’s head whittled in antler sitting atop the impressively carved wooden cane. In her oil painting on panel, “Ageswe’gaiyo,” Luanne Redeye presents an intimate glimpse of her personal tattoo body art, challenging stereotypes and pre-conceived notions of what Native peoples, particularly Native women and even Native art “should” look like. A four part series of watercolor paintings with beadwork and script by Dawn Dark Mountain brings attention to the 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua, established to promote a peaceful, respectful relationship between the United States and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. Still honored today through the annual gift of calico cloth by the United States, Dawn’s “Treaty Calico Series” summons viewers to reflect upon what constitutes respect in living treaty negotiations between sovereign nations; indeed, this grouping of new artworks is a robust reminder that we are settlers and wanderers on Indigenous lands every day, courtesy of a history of treaties, negotiations, and at times, theft, that continues to shape our complex narratives of settlement and co-existence.

Artworks (total pieces: 8)

  • Dreaming of Wild Foods” Gail Tremblay (Onondaga/Micmac), basket woven with film
  • “Nothing Happened #2” Jeremy Dennis (Shinnecock), digital C-print
  • "Condolence Cane" Noel Chrisjohn Benson (Oneida), carved wood and antler
  • “Ageswe'gaiyo'” Luanne Redeye (Seneca), oil on panel
  • “Treaty Calico Series” Dawn Dark Mountain (Oneida-Wisconsin), series of four watercolor and beadwork artworks on manipulated paper

The new artwork along with other new selections from the Contemporary Native American Art Collection will go on display in the galleries in 2018.