“YOU ARE ON INDIGENOUS LAND: places/displaces” exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum

Ancestral land holds meaning to Native peoples that is linked to identity, culture, history, and sovereignty. The exhibition YOU ARE ON INDIGENOUS LAND: places/displaces currently on display at the Seattle Art Museum acknowledges the interconnectedness of people and the land. Through the use of traditional and contemporary visual art, the exhibition depicts Indigenous land in a new narrative of justice and understanding.

Included in the exhibition are four paintings in a series titled Desecration by NACF’s 2011 National Artist Fellow John Feodorov (Navajo). In the eight years since Feodorov was awarded a Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (NACF) Artist Fellowship, he has continued to make an impact with his unique visual expression of identity, culture, power, consumerism, spirituality, land and the environment. Feodorov responds to issues of ongoing environmental threats to the Navajo Nation with each image depicting the environmental degradation of Diné land through uranium mining, coal mining, fracking and water pollution. Painted on Navajo rugs commissioned specifically for Desecration, Feodorov said that “it’s the sacredness of the rug that is essential to the meaning of the work.”

Land will always be a central issue of fundamental importance for Indigenous peoples, because of its sacred connection to identity and the resilience of Native cultures. The artists featured in the exhibition express a powerful emotional and spiritual connection to the land. Like all Indigenous peoples, they have seen their land rights threatened by corporations and federal policy which have separated them from their land, culture, and each other. In Feodorov’s artist statement in the exhibition, he states, “Desecrations responds to ongoing environmental threats to traditional Diné [Navajo] lands and communities from both government and private interests… as well as the exploitation and pollution of Indigenous lands and water sources around the world. Each rug is presented as a surrogate for both Native land and culture. I wanted these pieces to be simultaneously beautiful and ugly, perhaps reflecting the ambivalence some may feel about sacrificing, health, tradition, and sacred land for the sake of much-needed jobs.”

YOU ARE ON INDIGENOUS LAND: places/displaces
Seattle Art Museum
Seattle, WA
on exhibit through June 28, 2020
YOU ARE ON INDIGENOUS LAND: places/displaces
Image: Trial of Tears, 1991, David Neel, Canadian, Kwagu'l, b.1960, silkscreen, 28 x 22 in., Gift of Simon Ottenberg, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum, 2005.123, © David Neel.

John Feodorov’s series Desecration is currently on display through December 2019 at the Seattle Art Museum. The exhibition YOU ARE ON INDIGENOUS LAND: places/displaces is on display through June 28, 2020.