This exhibition was the third and final of a cycle of exhibitions organized over the past decade by the Museum of Arts and Design that presented a diverse panoply of new work by Native American, First Nations, Métis, and Inuit artists from Canada, the continental United States, and the Pacific Rim. Representing both established and emerging artists and presenting them without tribal designations, all three Changing Hands exhibitions focused on art that points toward the future, presenting works by contemporary artists who embrace and take inspiration from cultural traditions while also expressing their own distinct creativity and innovation.
Featuring more than 130 works, ranging from site-specific installations and video to sculpture and jewellery—approximately twenty-five of which were designed and created specifically for the exhibition, Changing Hands underscored and expanded the ways in which indigenous art and artists of our time are perceived, understood, and appreciated within the mainstream of contemporary art and design. The exhibition was structured around three significant themes: “Evolution and Exploration” examined how Native artists are reinterpreting their cultural traditions through contemporary perspectives; “Natural Selection” featured a group of artists whose works respond to and investigate nature through the lens of contemporary art; and “De-Coding History/Historical Provocation” presented politically nuanced works and contrasted the realities of history with the mythology of cultural assimilation that has marginalized much indigenous art. Changing Hands 3 provided audiences with a sensory experience of the complex, multilayered work of contemporary Native artists as they confront cultural expectations, reclaim lost traditions, and create a new identity for themselves shaped by historical, political, and personal circumstances.
A lavishly illustrated catalogue accompanied the exhibition, including essays exploring issues of identity, cultural disruption, creativity, the marketplace, and the future, by artists, critics, curators, and cultural and art historians.
Guest curator Ellen Taubman in collaboration with Museum of Arts and Design Chief Curator David McFadden. Organized by the Museum of Art and Design, New York. Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 3/Contemporary Native Art from the Northeast and Southeast is made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts. The exhibition catalogue is made possible in part with the support of the Smithsonian Institution’s Indigenous Contemporary Arts Program.