“Each/Other” at DAM highlights indigenous artists — The Know – Denver, Colorado

Denver, Colorado 2021-07-20 11:46:46 –

Photo of “Every One” by Cannupa Hanska Luger at the Denver Art Museum. (Hyun Chan, Denver Post)

“Each / Other” at the Denver Art Museum is a kind of experiment that compares, contrasts, and combines the works of two contemporary indigenous artists who have established themselves as an important voice in community art production.

Both Mary Watt and Kanupahan Skalger are known for engaging in the creative process of bringing people together to provide both intellectual energy and the actual workforce to the finished product. As this show presents to them, pairs are not as producers as they are co-producers, allowing free-form collaboration to guide the direction of their art.

Watt is probably best motivated to organize a sewing circle where people gather with needles and threads and share a personal story that symbolically sews into a large quilt aimed at capturing common history, struggles and hopes. is known.

Ruger has a lot of fame for his “Mirror Shield” project. There, he posted instructions on the Web to create a reflective shield that protesters could use to protect themselves from authorities attempting to dismantle collective action.

Artists Marie Watt (left) and Kanupahan Skalger are posing for portraiture in front of the sculpture “Each / Other” co-produced at the Denver Art Museum. (Hyun Chan, Denver Post)

The shields were made of soft cardboard, but their power was that their mirror-like fronts were sometimes fierce against peaceful demonstrators, forcing attackers to look back on themselves. It came from the facts.

Both artists have produced other types of work with considerable success, but “Each / Other” emphasizes the power of participatory art and is not the last object to be displayed, but the act of creation. The purpose is to focus on.

This makes the show unusual for DAM and other traditional museums, which have been moving primarily in the opposite direction for centuries. Museums tend to lift finished objects by placing them on a pedestal or hanging them on a wall with a golden frame. The challenges of scraping marble and applying loose pigments to canvas are not openly worshiped, but are implied.

“Nature” by Cannupa Hanska Luger at the Denver Art Museum. (Hyun Chan, Denver Post)

Therefore, “Each / Other” requires a different kind of look than what DAM visitors are accustomed to. The content is awe-inspiring, but more so if you know the inside story.

Exhibition curator John Lukavic brings this to visitors by displaying quotes from each artist on the wall at the entrance to the gallery. You can’t miss them, and they serve as de facto instructions for moving forward.

This from Ruger: “Art is a process, not an object. It’s a verb, not a noun.”

This from Watt: “Collaboration is an active agent of this work, not just a means to an end.”

“This is Not A Snake” by Cannupa Hanska Luger of the Denver Art Museum. (Hyun Chan, Denver Post)

In this way, viewing a work is an interactive process in itself. For example, Watt’s “Companion Species: The Ferocious Mother and the Canis Familiaris” initially looked just like a collection of random words, sewn onto a small piece of cloth attached together in a large collage hung on the wall. It is attached.

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“Each / Other” will be held at the Denver Art Museum until August 22nd. 720-865-5000 or

But if you read the accompanying curator’s text, you’ll find a deeper story. This work was created in a sewing circle where participants discuss the theme of fairness as they push the thread into a recycled wool blanket. Texts that include words such as “agency,” “deviation,” “guide,” and “breeder” have a richer meaning.

In most cases, “Each / Other” acts as a mini-retrospective of each artist’s career output, providing samples of signature works.

Viewers can see Watt’s Skywalker / Skyscraper (Babel) and other thin layers of neatly folded wool blankets stacked in incredibly tall and thin towers that mimic the shape of a skyscraper. Encounter the work. They are the memory of the ironworkers of Iroquois, whose labor was carried out at famous heights without safety belts, enabling the construction of skyscrapers in Manhattan.

You can also see her “butterfly” actually created in 2015 when she was an artist-in-residence at DAM. Born from a local sewing circle, this piece combines wool blankets, threads and tin jingles to associate a story of two young indigenous girls telling their experiences as pow wow dancers.

Photograph of “Opera Costumes: Bones, Coyote, Coyote, Wiindigo” taken by Cannupa Hanskalger at the Denver Art Museum. (Hyun Chan, Denver Post)

From Ruger, we’ll get the 2018 work “Every One,” made by stitching together 4,000 clay beads, and recreating a photo taken by Karispitzer, who captured the face of an indigenous woman. This work draws attention to “thousands of missing and murdered indigenous women, girls, queers and transgender people in Canada” and brought external labor into the country during periods of increased nature. As collateral for the invasion of a person, responsibility means that the responsibility remains collective Extraction of resources.

There is a sample of Ruger’s video work and a series of costumes he made for his performance work. There is also his “Emergent”. This is a set of ceramics shaped into the skeleton of an animal, drawing attention to the permanent effects of the mass slaughter of bison herds in the west in the 1800s.

After that, the exhibition shifts to a higher concept. Prior to the opening of the show, DAM asked Watt and Ruger, who had never collaborated before, to work together.

As a result, the show’s flashy work was titled “Each / Other,” and the artist asked participants around the world, “Whether the act of collaboration helps heal a broken bond with the environment. Asked to stab the message into the bandana, taking into account each other. “

Bandanas are shaped like cats that are larger than they really are, with words and phrases such as “hope” and “become an ally.” They contain different languages ​​and symbols. It’s playful at first, and as you become more knowledgeable about creating objects, objects become more appealing.

As an overall exhibit, “Each / Other” fits well with the Denver Art Museum’s efforts to renew its connection to Native American art. Due to its location in the west in many respects, DAM was a pioneer in the collection of indigenous art and was promoted to what the institution traditionally considers to be “museum-quality” art.

There are various heritage in it. In a sense, it made Native American art exotic as something other than American. And there are always questions that may not be answered, but are suffering, as to how some art was acquired and whether the artist was properly compensated.

But DAM has recently spent a very long time telling another story and communicating it fairly and comprehensively. I’m making progress. More than that, it brings a new life to a collection of art that has felt old and static for years. Visitors to shows like “Each / Other” show that indigenous art is essential and continuous, its voice is expanding and evolving, and that the exciting part may not have come yet. Reminds me.

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