Native Women Artists exhibition opens at Frist Art Museum

Christi Belcourt (Métis). The Wisdom of the Universe, 2014. Acrylic on canvas. Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Purchased with funds donated by Greg Latremoile, 2014, 2014/6. © Christi Belcourt

The Frist Art Museum presents Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists, the first major museum exhibition exclusively devoted to Native women artists from all over the United States and Canada, ranging across time and media. Organized by the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) and developed in close cooperation with leading Native artists and historians, the groundbreaking exhibition offers multiple perspectives to enhance understanding of Native art practices. Hearts of Our People will be on display in the Ingram Gallery from September 27, 2019, through January 12, 2020.

Women have long been the creative force behind Native American art; however, Hearts of Our People is the first major exhibition devoted solely to their work. This groundbreaking and comprehensive project features more than 115 objects — including traditional textiles, baskets, beadwork, and pottery, as well as painting, sculpture, video, and installation art — made by artists working in the United States and Canada from ancient times to the present day. Hearts of Our People is meant to be a tribute to all Native women artists, their families, and their nations, past and present. It is their minds, hearts, and hands that have birthed their worlds, and this exhibition, into being.

Lucy Martin Lewis (Acoma Pueblo). Ceramic seed jar, 1968. Clay and pigment. Minneapolis Institute of Art, The Patricia and Peter Frechette Endowment for Art Acquisition and gift of funds from Constance Kunin, 2018.

The exhibition planning process began with a question: Why do Native women make art? Organizers chose to respond within three core themes: Legacy, Relationships, and Power. Legacy examines the ways in which Native women artists acknowledge their lineage, making works that simultaneously embody the experience of previous generations, address the present moment, and speak to the future.. Métis artist Christi Belcourt (b. 1966) hopes that paintings like Wisdom of the Universe will remind viewers of the interconnected nature of existence on this planet. The highly detailed depictions of an array of vegetation inhabited by small insects and birds (all of which are on Canadian endangered lists) evoke First Nations beadwork art. Belcourt encourages us to abandon unsustainable paths in favor of an abiding relationship with the earth. Relationships explores the concept of bonds existing beyond the human world that include animals, nature, and other entities the non-Native world does not often recognize as having volition and agency. Power encompasses works created for diplomacy and influence, to empower others, and for the empowerment of oneself.

“Throughout the exhibition, visitors will see similarities across cultures and communities, but they will also notice many differences,” says Frist Art Museum Curator Katie Delmez. “Native Americans are not a monolithic group, and each tribe, nation, or community has its own unique culture, history, and present. Perhaps most important, each Native artist, like artists the world over, brings her own life experience, skill, and individual style to her art.”

You will see similarities across cultures and communities, but you will also see many differences. Native Americans are not a single monolithic group, and each tribe, nation, or community has its own unique culture, history, and present moment. Perhaps most important, each Native artist, like artists the world over, brings her own life experience, skill, and individual style to her art.

Put 1:00 pm, October 27, 2019 on your calendar now for Frist Free Family Festival Day. Celebrate the legacy, relationships, and power of women artists and explore artwork from Native North America, spanning prehistory to the present. Visitors of all ages are invited to enjoy a FREE day of performances, gallery programs, and studio activities inspired by the exhibition Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists from 1:00 – 5:30 p.m. Performances include Storytelling, 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. by Ramona Moore Big Eagle, Auditorium, Main Level; Traditional, Fancy, and Jingle Dancing at 2:30 p.m. by The Robinson Family, Auditorium, Main Level; “Chitimacha Basketry” from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. by Melissa Darden, Grand Lobby, Main Level; Choctaw Beadwork from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. by Sally Wells and Madison Dean, Grand Lobby, Main Level; and Meet the 2019 Native American Indian Association Princess Maranda Frazier, from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m., in the Grand Lobby and Turner Courtyard, Main Level.

Experiment with a variety of exciting hands-on art activities, featuring stations connected to Eric Carle’s Picture Books in Martin ArtQuest® Gallery, 1:00–5:30 p.m., Upper Level; Nature Dot Painting, 1:00–5:00 p.m., Studio A, Upper Level; Girl Power Portrait Pendant, 1:00–5:00 p.m., Studio B, Upper Level; Legacy Photo Frame, 1:00–5:00 p.m., Studio C, Upper Level; Molly of Denali screening, 1:00–5:00 p.m., Rechter Room, Main Level. Multisensory Stations, 1:30–3:30 p.m., Ingram Gallery, Main Level; Table Games, 1:00–4:00 p.m., Grand Lobby; Hoop and Pole;2:00–4:00 p.m., Turner Courtyard. Refreshments from 12:30–5:30 p.m. include a variety of freshly made food for the whole family in the Frist Café, Main Level; Food Trucks on McGavock Street: Brick and Motor, Love at First Bite, The Urban Juicer. No outside food or beverage may be brought into the Frist Art Museum or consumed in the Frist café.

Also opening is OSGEMEOS: In between, an exhibition of sculptures and paintings by the Brazilian artist duo internationally celebrated for their vivid and playful public murals and studio work. The identical twin brothers Gustavo and Otavio Pandolfo—OSGEMEOS (the artists’ nom de plume; Portuguese for “the twins”)—create imagery that blends wide-ranging influences, from Brazilian folklore to hip-hop culture. The exhibition will be on display in the Frist’s Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery from September 27, 2019, through January 12, 2020.

For more complete information on these and other Frist Art Museum programs, including November 8, 2019 – Frist Friday: Murals + Mics, 6:00–9:00 p.m., see their website: