Mohawk artist Alan Michelson, 2012 NACF Artist Fellowship in Visual Arts.
Grantee:  Alan Michelson
Native Citizenship:  Mohawk
Location:  New York City
Award:  2012 NACF Artist Fellowship
Discipline:  Visual Arts
Web Site:

Alan Michelson lives and works in New York City. Through his conceptual work, he develops his pieces employing various mediums. “My understanding of place and history is shaped and conditioned by Haudenosaunee concepts and perspectives. The forms that I invent are often based on Haudenosaunee cultural models like wampum belts, blended with media or materials from the dominant culture such as video or glass,” said Michelson. “My work is grounded in place and informed by history, and therefore, research is an integral part of my practice.”

Alan Michelson’s work is elegant, eloquent and strategic, often referencing issues around environmental advocacy, the complexities of sovereignty and the often vexed juxtaposition of Native and other cultures.

He is steeped in the discourse of contemporary Native art and has been invited to exhibit his work at notable institutions including a solo exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian-New York, group shows at the NMAI in D.C., the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Heard Museum and internationally in Brazil, Canada and the U.K.

In 2011, the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation awarded the innovative installation artist a 2011 NACF Artist Fellowship for Visual Arts. During his fellowship year, Michelson delivered public lectures at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Otsego Institute for Native American Art History, Fenimore Cooper Museum, Parsons The New School for Design and Montclair State University. With the support of the foundation, Michelson created work that reached diverse communities, participants and audiences ranging in the hundreds of thousands with his solo, group exhibitions, retreats, panels and biennale.

“I thank the Native Arts and Culture Foundation for their generous support of this fellowship, I am honored to have been chosen. The award allowed me to take valuable time off from teaching to devote myself to my artistic endeavors at a busy, critical junction in my career,” said Michelson. “The NACF Artist Fellowship supported the production of three major new sculptural installations that were exhibited internationally to critical acclaim at the 18th Biennale of Sydney, the Milani Gallery in Brisbane, Australia, and in Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 3, Contemporary Native Art from the Northeast and Southeast, an international touring exhibition that originated at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York. The award also supported the production of my proposal for a public art commission for the Virginia Indian Commemorative Commission.”

The Virginia Indian Commemorative Commission will unveil Michelson’s public art installation in 2015 in Richmond. Michelson designed Mantle, a monument honoring the legacy and contributions of Virginia’s first peoples and the beauty of the land’s indigenous ecosystem.

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