Native Art Visual Visions     

Imago Mundi

Contemporary North American Indigenous Artists


In 2000, after 136 years, The US Congress formally apologized to Native Americans for the Sand Creek massacre. On November 29, 1864, the Colorado U.S. Volunteer Cavalry attacked an undefended village of Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes, massacring hundreds of women, children and the elderly, while their warriors were away hunting for bison. Colonel Chivington, in charge of the assault, justified himself by saying “kill and scalp all, big and little; nits make lice.” Today this and other massacres are indelibly defined in the collective memory of the peoples who were once masters of the New World and who are now, however, increasingly gaining awareness of their vast existential, cultural and artistic reality. Against the backdrop of this immense kaleidoscope of ethnicities and sensibilities, the Imago Mundi collection is formed of 210 works in the small 10x12 cm format.

Alexandra Elizabeth-Kay Buffalohead - Blood Qua... (2014)

Santiago X - Columbus X Wanted (2014)

"The earliest works by Native Americans in which there is contamination between traditional and modern art - notes Luciano Benetton, the creator of Imago Mundi - date back to the period after the great Indian wars, the late nineteenth century. Today, the main form of oppression from which Native American art must free itself seems to be that of the ethnic niche, tribal naivety, from the ghettoizing definition of ‘Indian artist’.

Matthew Bearden - Old Ways Lost (2014)

Ben Pease - Future In His Eyes (2014)

Amber “Gunn” Gauthier - Winnebago Woman (Lillian St. Cyr A.K.A. Princess Red Wing) (2014)

Our collection takes this direction to explore a new generation of artists, together with established masters, whose works – paintings, sculptures, photographs, graphics, engravings, illustrations, fiber art, cartoons, fashion design, mixed media – aim to fully express their identity and viewpoint.”

Zoë Marieh Urness - Forever Together (2014)

Meryl Mcmaster – Relation (2014)

Ricardo Lee Caté – Someday (2014)

Tom Kanthak - Waa-Waash-Ke-Shi, Mii-Gwech (Deer, Thank You) In Ojibwe (2014)

The curator of this Imago Mundi collection, Jennifer Karch Verzé, traveled 10,000 kilometers in forty-five days: 4 geographical regions (Central Canada, New England, the Northern Plains, the Southwest); 11 States (South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, Minnesota, Vermont, New Hampshire, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado); 2 Provinces (Ontario and Quebec); 8 reservations (Crow, Cheyenne, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reservation, Mohawk, Navajo, Hopi, Apache).

John Potter - Montana Sunset (2014)

Denesse Paul - Across The Big Water (2014)

My journey - says the curator - took me through some amazing country: from sweeping landscapes in North Dakota to majestic mountains and buttes in Monument Valley; through golden deserts dotted with saguaro cactus in Arizona, to endless fields of sage and sweetgrass in South Dakota; from the forests of wild pine and rock of the Canadian Shield to stretches of flatness with clouds blaring above in Montana; from the wide, rose-colored deserts and broken mesas of New Mexico to sprawling cities with networks of highways. I had the utmost confirmation that the world of North American Natives is a complex matrix of spiritual cosmologies, art content, legends and personal histories, unlike anything I had ever experienced.”

Louise Vien - In Flight (2014)

Anthony Warren Deiter - Another Conversation (2014)

Nathalie Bertin – Rabbit (2014)

In this wide and diverse geographical framework - Karch Verzé continues – “Native artists, trained in their communities and in professional art schools and universities, living in cities or on reservations, work in a broad range of media, conceptual modes and expressive styles. Sharing their art as a contemporary expression, derived from cultural memory and their hidden history, the collection becomes a composite awareness of symbol and concept, of new creation, experimentation and experience.”

Jon Decelles - Mitakuye Oyasin (All My Relations) (2014)

Oreland C. Joe - Black Foot Warrior (2014)

Chris Pappan - Ledger Drawing (2014)

Peter Horne Sarabella - Soul – Two Spirit (2014)

Frank Buffalo Hyde - Close Encounter On The Rez (2014)

A noteworthy perspective in the development of Native American art is that of the trading posts, that have existed since the days of the Western frontier. These were often managed by traders who, both intentionally and unintentionally, have guided the production of an artistic movement and have become collectors of unique, valuable and often amazing works. Ed Chamerlain gives the example of the Hubbell Trading Post in Ganado Arizona, of which he is the former curator, where “visitors, artists, collectors and explorers from around the world stop by Hubbell’s daily to learn, look, and laugh, seek sustenance, grounding, and guidance, and discover a world of unlimited creative opportunities with an abundance of inspiration.”

Angela Babby - Buffy, Flying Buffalo Project, Kite Design In Miniature (2014)

Kelly Church - All That Is Anishinabe (2014)

Baje Whitethorne Sr. - Mr. Hat, I (2014)

Phillema Brown - Beauty, Prayer, Strength, Unity (2014)

All these elements converge in a new expression, that of ‘Native Renaissance’. Anthony Deiter, Chair and Professor of Art at Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina, clarifies its meaning: “This renaissance is now manifesting itself on a dynamic level in the art and media world. In short, Native America is talking and they are bringing to the international artistic narrative a unique and colorful Indigenous palette. Within this area of our ‘Indigenous’ world are some very great artists, from some very respected peoples and who possess some very powerful visual narrative, here yesterday, now today and into the future.”

Randy Kemp - Tzo-Ya-Ha Turtle Clan (2014)

Sam English – Him (2014)

Henry Francis Payer Jr. - Thunderbird Collage, 3 (2014)

A future that is reflected in the words – cited by Luciano Benetton – of the Navajo artist Rudolph Carl Gorman, who died in 2005: “I do not think about being or not being Indian. I am an Indian and I paint and that’s all. I’d rather be considered a painter who is Indian rather than an Indian who paints.”

Phillip Paul Buckheart - Native Man & Spirit (2014)

Credits: Story

Project Management
La Biennale di Malindi Ltd.

Jennifer Karch Verzè

Valentina Granzotto

Editorial coordination
Enrico Bossan

Luciano Benetton
Jennifer Karch Verzè
Ed Chamerlain
Anthony Deiter

Editing and translation
Emma Cole
Chiara Galasso
Pietro Valdatta
Demetrio De Stefano

Jennifer Karch Verzè
Giuseppe Verzè
Christian Verzè
Marco Zanin (Artworks)

Book design
Marcello Piccinini

Marco Pavan

Black Pinto Horse – Monte Yellow Bird Sr. (In Heaven and on Earth Starboy Rides)

Special thanks
This collection would not have been possible without the support, enthusiasm and belief in the project of many people, institutions and organizations.
—Fondazione Sarenco
—Lea Toulouse
—Rose Marie Cutropia
—Gene Billie
—Lyle Yazzie and Indigenous Brillance
—Chris Pappan Amber Gunn Gauthier
—OCAD U Indigenous Visual Culture, Toronto, Ontario
—Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA), Santa Fe, New Mexico
—Woodland Cultural Center, Brantford, Ontario
—The Georgina Arts Center and Gallery, Simcoe, Ontario
—G’zaagin Art Gallery, Parry Sound, Ontario
—Wiikwemikoong Art Gallery, Wikwemikoong Unceded Indian Reserve, Manitoulin Island, Ontario
—Beat Nation: Art Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture, Muséé d’Art Contemporain de Montréal, Quebec
—Montreal First People’s Festival, Quebec
—Kanien’kehá:ka Onkwawén:na Raotitióhkwa Language and Cultural Center, Mohawk Nation, Kahanawake, Quebec
—Native American Studies Program and Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire
—A Gathering of People, Wind and Water, Rapid City, South Dakota
—Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Sitting Bull Visitor Center, Fort Yates, North Dakota —All My Relations Gallery, Minneapolis, Minnesota
—SWAIA, Santa Fe Indian Market, Santa Fe, New Mexico
—IFAM, Indigenous Fine Art Market, Santa Fe, New Mexico
—Winterowd Fine Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico
—Lynn Mastelotto
—Fabio F. Graphico

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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