"The myth of disappearing Native peoples is very strong in the United States. Indigenous communities are seen by non-Native audiences as part of a historic and past frontier that now only exists in archives, museums, and libraries. We don't often learn how this stereotype of disappearance is the result of state and government policies of forced Indigenous removal, forced assimilation (through boarding schools), and the process of termination (legally erasing Native nations from existing). Art, literature, and films made by non-Native peoples policed the boundaries of what could be seen as ‘authentic’ Native culture and exported ideas of Indigenous ‘disappearance’ globally, perpetuating damaging stereotypes to this day.
Showcasing museum objects that non-Native audiences rarely see, like the 20th century Seminole dress or Haudenosaunee beaded caps on view in this exhibition, challenges viewers to think about Native presence and production long after the colonial and ‘frontier’ eras. Pairing these items with garments and headgear crafted by Jeffery Gibson reminds audiences that Native arts, culture, and community remain present to this day and demands that we expand the boundaries of what constitutes Indigenous material. Put into the same space, viewers are invited to confront their assumptions about Native history and art, see historic collections with fresh eyes, and consider how contemporary artists and Native communities are in productive dialogue with their past and future." — Dr. Christian Ayne Crouch
In observance of National Native American Heritage Month, this November we’ll be exploring the themes of the exhibition When Fire Is Applied to a Stone It Cracks, with commentary from both Jeffrey Gibson and historian Dr. Christian Ayne Crouch.
Installation views, Jeffrey Gibson: When Fire Is Applied to a Stone It Cracks, Brooklyn Museum, February 14, 2020 - January 10, 2021
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