New Myth: Contemporary Artists of Native American Descent
— The Arts Club London

Installation view: New Myth: Contemporary Artists of Native American Descent, The Arts Club, London. Image: Kate Elliot.


Installation view: New Myth: Contemporary Artists of Native American Descent, The Arts Club, London. Image: Kate Elliot.

New Myth: Contemporary Artists of Native American Descent brings together twelve works by six contemporary artists of Native American descent. Showing works from the late 1980s to the present, the exhibition explores the myriad of ways this group of artists examine their cultural roots and contemporary lives through art. The presentation aims to shed light on the significant shift within art history away from the suspension of traditional Native American art somewhere in the past, highlighting how the included artists are part of a wider movement gaining momentum across museums, biennales and galleries which recognises the vibrancy of contemporary Native American art.

The artists include in the exhibition are Gisela McDaniel (b. 1995), a diasporic, Indigenous CHamoru artist whose work explores the effects of trauma, displacement and colonisation, largely through portraits of women and non-binary people who identify as minority ethnic; Julie Buffalohead (b. 1972), an artist from the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma whose work describes indigenous cultural experiences through personal metaphor and narrative, frequently critiquing the prejudicial commercialisation of Native American culture and representations of the Old West; Cannupa Hanska Luger (b.1979), an enrolled member of the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation whose installations combine performance and political action to communicate stories about the experiences of 21st century indigenous people; Esteban Cabeza de Baca (b.1985), an artist of Mexican and Native American heritage whose work draws on influences ranging from petroglyphs to Jackson Pollock and interrogates complex relationships between colonialism and its critiques; Jaune Quick-to-See Smith (b.1940), an enrolled Salish member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Nation, Montana, who incorporates appropriated imagery, commercial slogans and signage, and art historical references into her work to create a powerful visual language that engages with socio-political commentary; and Mario Martinez (b.1953), an enrolled member of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona whose expansive canvases full of writhing forms combine an admiration for the New York School and Abstract Expressionism with an emphasis on the historical interest in abstraction amongst indigenous cultures.

Together, these artists present vivid insights into the balancing of personal and familial histories with contemporary artistic, societal, and political concerns, forging practises that address our constantly shifting present. Arts Club members and the public are invited to contemplate these exciting works, and the ideas and ever-evolving visual languages that they embody.  

We are very grateful to the artists, lenders and gallery teams for their generosity and collaboration on this exhibition. The exhibition is curated by Amelie von Wedel and Pernilla Holmes of Wedel Art.