The Westmoreland Celebrates Native American Art and Culture
Spring photography exhibit and series of events will look at the effects of colonialism while highlighting Native American art and culture.
GREENSBURG, Pennsylvania (Feb. 25, 2019) – This spring, visitors to The Westmoreland Museum of American Art will experience visual art as well as performances, discussions, and culinary adventures, that explore Native American culture and the effects of colonialism. The program is anchored by an exhibition: Mingled Visions: The Photographs of Edward S. Curtis and Will Wilson, on display March 30 through June 30, 2019. In tandem, a second exhibition, The Outsider’s Gaze, explores the role of 19th- and early 20th-century European American artists in creating and reinforcing stereotypes of Native Americans.
The Westmoreland, located in Greensburg, is Western Pennsylvania’s only museum dedicated to American art. Striving to create more opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to experience art in a variety of forms, the Museum has expanded programming by more than 80%, extended its hours, and made admission free, eliminating a previous suggested-donation policy.
Mingled Visions offers an intriguing comparison of two photographers documenting Native American life. Edward S. Curtis spent three decades in the late 19th and early 20th centuries photographing and documenting Native American life, culminating in more than 40,000 photographic images of more than 80 tribes throughout the American West.
Working in a similar historical photographic process, Diné photographer Will Wilson resumes the documentary mission of Curtis from the standpoint of a 21st-century indigenous artist. Wilson convenes with and invites indigenous artists, arts professionals and tribal governance to engage in the performative ritual that is the studio portrait, directly challenging the assumption that Native people are frozen in time.
Visitors of The Westmoreland will have the chance to participate in this ritual themselves at a free event on Sat., May 18, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., when Wilson sets up a working portrait studio in the Museum. Using a large-format camera and historic wet plate collodion process, Wilson will photograph portraits of a limited number of participants, inviting them into his series of contemporary tintypes. Those who sit for the photographs will be gifted their tintype portrait, developed on the spot, and a high-resolution scan of their image will become part of Wilson’s ongoing portraiture project.
Concurrently with the exhibition and related events, The Westmoreland will release a land statement to acknowledge the Adena, Hopewell, Monongahela, Delaware, Shawnee and Seneca-Cayuga communities on whose land the Museum stands. This statement will appear within the exhibition and will be shared verbally by staff before events. Eventually, a permanent plaque will be installed.
“As a museum of American art, we have a responsibility to reflect the diversity of this country and its artists,” says Anne Kraybill, the Richard M. Scaife Director and CEO of The Westmoreland. “It’s important not only to acknowledge the tribes that preceded us on this land and honor their traditions but also to celebrate contemporary Native American creators.”
Other programming associated with the exhibition:
Fri., April 12, 7:30 p.m.: The April edition of the Westmoreland’s monthly Art on Tap 2.0 event will feature an option to purchase an upgraded ticket to experience a performance by the 1491s, a Native American sketch comedy group that depicts contemporary Native American life using humor and satire to explore issues such as stereotypes and racism (internal and external), tribal politics, and the conflict between tradition and modernity. From 5 to 9 p.m., all Art on Tap ticket holders can enjoy a reception with light bites from Elegant Catering and an art scavenger hunt. (Art on Tap only admission: $10 for members, $15 for nonmembers; Art on Tap plus 1491s performance : $20 for members, $30 for non-members)
Sun., April 28, 2 – 3 p.m.: Dr. Shannon Egan, Director of the Schmucker Art Gallery of Gettysburg College, presents “‘A True Indian’: The Art, Artifice, and Politics of Edward S. Curtis’s North American Indian.” Egan considers three divergent moments over the three decades of Curtis’s career to provide a broader understanding of how carefully manipulated depictions of Native Americans nonetheless pictured a “real” cultural truth. (Free)
Sun., May 5, noon – 5 p.m.: The Council of the Three Rivers Native American Center joins The Westmoreland for a celebration of Native American culture in the community, featuring dance performances, music, storytelling, art activities and food. (Free)
Sat., June 1, 6 – 9 p.m.: “Reclaiming Native American Food,” a dinner and discussion with Chef Sean Sherman: Chef Sherman, Oglala Lakota and Founder of The Sioux Chef, his catering and food education business in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, will discuss Native American farming techniques, wild food usage and harvesting, cooking techniques and native cultural history. Enjoy a dinner and discussion presented in partnership with Adelphoi Village, Repair the World and 412 Food Rescue focusing on Native American cuisine sourced and foraged from indigenous and local farmers and land. (Reception: 6 – 7 p.m., dinner: 7 – 9 p.m. Dinner is $50 for museum members and $60 for non-members.)
For more information or to register/purchase tickets, visit https://thewestmoreland.org/events/.
The Westmoreland’s new hours (Beginning March 30):
Wed. – Fri.: 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Sat. – Sun.: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Mon. – Tues.: closed (except for scheduled school groups and partner programs)