Modern Native Art Comes to The Westmoreland


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Claire Ertl
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Modern Native Art Comes to The Westmoreland

GREENSBURG, Pennsylvania (January 31, 2023) – The Westmoreland Museum of American Art is proud to present the nationally traveling exhibition Action/Abstraction Redefined: Modern Native Art, 1945–1975, organized by the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA) in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The exhibition opens at The Westmoreland on Sunday, February 26, and will remain on view through Sunday, May 28.

Comprising 52 paintings, sculptures, and works on paper by 32 artists, Action/Abstraction Redefined is the first major traveling exhibition to explore the innovation and experimentation of modern Native American art. Drawn from IAIA’s exceptional holdings—the largest collection of Native contemporary art in the nation—the exhibition features work from notable artists, such as T. C. Cannon (Caddo/Kiowa), George Morrison (Chippewa), and Fritz Scholder (Mission/Luiseño), and illustrates how their careers intersected with Abstract Expressionism, Color Field, and Hard-edge Painting. These artists explored new forms of artistic expression by challenging stereotypical expectations of American Indians.

Their path-breaking work was created at the IAIA in Santa Fe, a unique education institution and the birthplace of contemporary Native art. IAIA’s revolutionary approach to both art and teaching encouraged experimentation and risk taking: artists combined New York School art influences with Native art traditions. Like Abstract Expressionists, who broke with representational conventions, IAIA artists redefined the concept of abstraction by creating deeply personal works informed by their own traditional aesthetics and art influences coming out of New York. Among the artists included in this exhibition are George Morrison (Chippewa), Lloyd Kiva New (Cherokee), T.C. Cannon (Caddo/Kiowa), Fritz Scholder (Mission/Luiseño), Alfred Young Man (Cree), Linda Lomahaftewa (Hopi/Choctaw), John Hoover (Aleut), Edna Massey (Cherokee), Earl Eder (Yanktonai Sioux), Neil Parsons (Blackfeet), Kevin Red Star (Crow), Redstar Price (Crow), Peter Jones (Onondaga), George Burdeau (Blackfeet), Henry “Hank” Delano Gobin (Tulalip/Snohomish), Alice Loiselle (Chippewa), Patrick Swazo Hinds (Tesuque Pueblo), Carl Tubby (Choctaw), and others.

“I find it so inspiring how young some of these artists were when they made their work. So many were in their late teens and early twenties, yet their mastery of materials and content is so confident and

assured. Their work resonates so deeply with our present need for connection, both with ourselves and with each other,” stated Chief Curator Jeremiah William McCarthy.

For this exhibition, Dr. Erica Nuckles, Director of Learning, Engagement and Partnerships, is renewing the Museum’s collaboration with the Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center in Pittsburgh after a 2019 partnership for the exhibition programming tied to Mingled Visions: The Photographs of Edward S. Curtis and Will Wilson. Additionally, she is connecting with Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village and Fort Pitt Museum, leaders in the region for their work with current members of federally recognized tribes who historically occupied and used the lands of the Ohio River Valley, as well as the Ganondagan Seneca Art and Culture Center in Victor, New York and the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona.

“A core component to our institutional mission is to open minds and hearts to new ideas, perspectives, and possibilities, and that is what the robust suite of programs activating this exhibition allows us to do,” offered Nuckles.

A full slate of upcoming events and programs related to Action/Abstraction Redefined will be posted on the Museum’s website at Planned programming includes a film screening, in-person and virtual discussions, a teacher workshop, and several special community days taking place throughout the exhibition’s run.

“We hope by sharing this important exhibition with our audiences, all will gain greater understanding. Museum programs, such as Native American Stories and Art, Current Issues in Native America, and the Native Peoples Celebration: American Indian Drum and Dance Performance, will provide the space for cultural dialogue and empathy,” added Suzanne Wright, Interim Director/CEO.

Action/Abstraction Redefined is co-curated by MoCNA Chief Curator Dr. Manuela Well-Off-Man, MoCNA Curator of Collections Tatiana Lomahaftewa-Singer, and Director IAIA Research Center for Contemporary Native Arts and Art History Faculty Dr. Lara Evans. The exhibition was first on view at MoCNA in 2019, and now travels the country. The Westmoreland is one of six venues on the national tour.

Action/Abstraction Redefined is organized by IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, Santa Fe, NM.

Support for this exhibition is provided by Art Bridges.

Support for The Westmoreland’s presentation of this exhibition is provided by Art Bridges, the Hillman Exhibition Fund of The Westmoreland Museum of American Art and The Heinz Endowments.

About The Westmoreland Museum of American Art: Western Pennsylvania’s only museum dedicated to American art, The Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, is a place to share meaningful cultural experiences that open the door to new ideas, perspectives and possibilities. The Westmoreland’s extraordinary permanent collection with its strong focus on the art and artists of Southwestern Pennsylvania is complemented by an impressive temporary exhibition schedule featuring both nationally traveling exhibitions and those organized by the Museum. Additionally, The Westmoreland presents a full slate of community-oriented programming as well as special events. More information is available at and on the Museum’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles. General admission to the Museum is free with advance online registration recommended. The Museum’s operating hours are Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10am-5pm, and Thursday from 10am-8pm during the months of December 2022 and January 2023. The Winter Lights display at the Museum is on view from dusk to 10pm nightly through Sunday, January 29, 2023. One can find information on registering for a visit at