Campus Life

Native Art Explores Colonization & Injustice


Native American artists grapple with what it means to be indigenous in contemporary society in a new Thacher Gallery exhibit. The works in Interwoven: Indigenous Contemporary reimagine traditional artifacts, materials, and values with a modern-day spin.

The exhibit is comprised of works by 15 artists — most from California Indian tribes — who challenge preconceived ideas about indigenous identity. Artist James Luna reframes Native ceremonial masks by pairing them with self-portraits, for example; while artist Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie combines images of early Spanish colonization and present-day indigenous rights protests in a video that culminates with the declaration, “Native Lives Matter.”

“Indigenous issues are very important to me personally, and I feel that we have an obligation as artists to spread awareness about certain ways of life not known to outsiders as well as injustices against Native Americans historically and currently,” says artist Spencer Keeton Cunningham, whose acrylic on canvas, “Americana,” depicts the appropriation of Native American imagery in popular culture.

Interwoven: Indigenous Contemporary runs from Nov. 16, 2015 to Feb. 14, 2016. It is the second in a two-part series that explores Native California arts.

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