Tuesday, January 17, 2012

ShapeShifting at the Peabody Essex Museum

Santa Clara Pueblo; Emergence of the Clowns, 1988
Our friends at the Peabody Essex Museum have produced an incredible new exhibit called ShapeShifting: Transformations in Native American Art which should appeal to both the seasoned and the casual art enthusiast.

Nisga'a artist; Mask, ca. 1850

This is not a traditional exhibit of Native American art showcasing stereotypical pieces arranged by geographic location. Karen Kramer Russell, Curator of Native American Art and Culture, notes that “Native American art has always taken cultural knowledge and metaphors and refreshed them with new ideas and forms.” ShapeShifting does just that – it shifts your perception of what Native American art is.

The galleries are grouped into four conceptual frameworks: Changing, Knowing, Locating, and Voicing, incorporating over 75 objects in a range of media - painting, sculpture, multimedia work, textiles and awe-inspiring installations.

The show continues the PEM’s tradition of showcasing the historical and artistic traditions of Native Americans. The Museum began collecting Native American artifacts around 70 years before any other American museum and curated the last major American show of Native American art in 1996. Many of the pieces featured in ShapeShifting are on display in the United States for the first time.

Seneca; Column (Blanket Stories), 2003

ShapeShifting: Transformations in Native American Art, is on view through April 29, 2012. Don’t miss the Atrium Alive ShapeShifting Festival February 18-19, featuring a weekend of interactive and engaging programming including song and dance, weaving demonstrations, artist lectures, art making and more. Visit www.pem.org/calendar for details.

The PEM is open Tuesday-Sunday and holiday Mondays, 10 am – 5 pm. Members, youth 16 and under and residents of Salem enjoy free general admission.

I hope to see you there.


1 comment:

  1. Oh good! Another great exhibit and "excuse" for me to make another trip back up to Salem!

    I have to say that I am very impressed at the frequency and quality of new exhibits that go on at the PEM as it seems like there's something new all the time to bring people back in again and again. Salem is so fortunate to have such a great museum!