Chazen Museum of Art


Contemporary Native North American Art Exhibition
Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 3
at the Chazen Museum of Art, February 7–April 27

Featuring site-specific installations and sculpture, as well as ceramics, glass, metal, jewelry, and textiles by 85 indigenous artists from northeastern and southeastern regions of North America.


Madison, Wis. January 30, 2014—The third exhibition in the Museum of Arts and Design’s groundbreaking series Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 3, Contemporary Native North American Art from the Northeast and Southeast features approximately 85 artists from the United States and Canada, who represent a new generation of indigenous artists utilizing contemporary techniques, materials, aesthetics, and iconography in their art and design practice. Changing Hands 3 presents works created in the past seven years by Native artists in regions east of the Mississippi, including the Great Lakes, Woodlands, Northeast, Southeast, and up through the Canadian Sub Arctic, and recasts these works through the lens of contemporary art and design from around the globe. The exhibition transcends ethnographic and anthropological interpretations and challenges preconceived notions and stereotypes of indigenous art and artists to effect a reevaluation of contemporary Native art in an international arena. 

Changing Hands 3 features more than 130 works, approximately 25 of which were designed and created specifically for the exhibition. Following its New York City premiere at the Museum of Art and Design (MAD), the exhibition traveled to museums in the United States and Canada.

Curated by Ellen Taubman in collaboration with MAD’s chief curator David McFadden, the works in the exhibition come from a broad cross-section of indigenous cultures, including Native Americans from the U.S., and First Nations, Metis and Inuit people from Canada. Featured artists are presented without tribal designations, however, and the exhibition is instead organized around the following three significant themes that illuminate artistic, intellectual, and cultural resonances among Native artists:

  • “Evolution and Exploration” examines how Native artists are reinterpreting their cultural traditions through contemporary perspectives, and includes the work of scholar and beadwork artist Joe Baker, whose creative use of color and patterning in textiles is based on the complex floral and geometric elements that once decorated early bandolier bags among the Delaware and Southeastern people; performance and mixed media artist Barry Ace, who uses computer components in lieu of the more "traditional" glass trade beads identified with many Native groups; Jeremy Frey, whose innovative sculptural baskets reference early Maine basketry techniques; and Jamie Zane Smith, who has developed an entirely new language of ceramics through the study of prehistoric and proto-historic forms among the Wyandot tribe.
  • "Natural Selection" features a group of artists whose works respond to and investigates nature through the lens of contemporary art, including Truman Lowe, whose dramatic and conceptual openwork sculptures are created from willow branches harvested by the artist; acclaimed sculptor and glass artist Robert Tannahill, who creates stylized "masks" that represent the interplay of natural wood forms and molten glass; and Frank Shebegaget, whose major installation, “Cell,” is constructed from hundreds of fine strands of fishing wire interspersed with hooks that create both a visceral and emotional impact.
  • "De-Coding History/Historical Provocation" presents works that are often politically nuanced and contrast the realities of history with the mythology of cultural assimilation that has marginalized much indigenous art. Among the featured artists are Robert Houle, whose work addresses the disruption and dislocation of individuals, families, and oftentimes, entire cultures as well as the public apology made by the Canadian government for the mistreatment of indigenous peoples in government residential schools.  His installation, “Sandy Bay Residential School,” which is featured in the exhibition, recounts his experience at a residential school after being removed from his family at a very young age; mixed media artist Shan Goshon, whose featured woven basket is comprised of a photograph of Indian schoolchildren and adults at a typical boarding school, titled “Educational Genocide: The Legacy of the Carlisle Indian Boarding School;” and performance and installation artist  Kent Monkman, who questions history, colonization, boundaries of identity, gender and more in a broad body of work, evidenced in this exhibition with a number of works, including the film “Shooting Geronimo,” which highlights the way Hollywood has caricatured indigenous people in film, and “Emergence of a Legend,” a series of five photographs which depict Monkman’s alter ego, Miss Chief, in various costumes that confront how Native Americans have been forced to perform their identity for other cultures, among other works.

Changing Hands 3 provides audiences with a sensory experience of the complex, multilayered work of contemporary Native artists as they confront cultural expectations, reclaim lost traditions, and create a new identity for themselves shaped by historical, political, and personal circumstances,” says Ellen Taubman, Changing Hands curator. “Through an extraordinary melding of past and present, and direct opposition between stereotype and tradition, the Native artists featured in the exhibition confront what Native art has meant and what it means today.”

Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 3, Contemporary Native Art from the Northeast and Southeast is made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts. The exhibition catalogue is made possible in part with the support of the Smithsonian Institution’s Indigenous Contemporary Arts Program.

Generous support for this exhibition has been provided by the Chazen Museum of Art Council, the Brittingham Fund, and the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Exhibition-related Special Events

  • Thursday, February 6, 6:30– 8 p.m.: Reception with a native ceremonial opening by The Wisconsin Dells Singers and Dance Troop (6:30-7 p.m.), live music by Wunk Sheek (7:00-8:00 p.m.), refreshments and a cash bar.
  • Thursday, February 20, 3:30–7:45 p.m.: Symposium: “The Art World, the Academy, and Contemporary Native Art: Seeing Without Reservation.” Native artists John Hitchcock, Tom Jones, Truman Lowe, and Wanesia Misquadace,  UW-Madison; and art historian and catalogue essayist Jo Ortel, Beloit College, will speak. Chazen Auditorium
  • Saturday, February 22, 12–3:30 p.m.: A Chazen ART•SPIN Community Celebration – featuring live Pow Wow dance performances, hands-on activities, and exhibition tours. Schedule will be available at ART•SPIN events are presented for the Madison community with support from area businesses and organizations.
  • Thursday, March 13, 4:30 p.m.: Talk and Print Viewing: “Convergence: Indigenous Perspectives in Global Contexts.” Using digital imaging combined with traditional printmaking processes and drawing, contemporary Indigenous North American artists are creating not only works on paper but print-installation art and public art. These “conversions” are happening globally, evidence of a contemporaneity and a power that is unique to the Native experience. Native artist and UW–Madison art professor John Hitchcock will talk and present examples from print portfolios he has curated. Chazen Museum of Art, Prints and Drawings Study. Space is limited; call the Chazen, 608-263-2246 to pre-register.
  • Thursday, March 27, 7 p.m.: Bridge Poetry Series, Changing Hands: Art Without Reservations 3, Contemporary Native North American Art from the Northeast and Southeast. Invited Wisconsin poets will read works inspired by the exhibition. Mead Witter Lobby
  • Saturday, March 29 12–4 p.m.: A Chazen ART•SPIN Community Celebration – featuring live performances by local Native American musicians, hands-on activities, and exhibition tours. Schedule will be available at ART•SPIN events are presented for the Madison community with support from area businesses and organizations.
  • Thursday, April 10, 4:30 p.m.: Four Lakes Cultural Landscape Walking Tour. Aaron Bird Bear, American Indian Curriculum Services, UW-Madison School of Education, tour leader. Meet in the Chazen lobby, 750 University Avenue. On this hike Aaron Bird Bear will explore the revolving relationship between Indians and non-Indians  in the development of campus buildings and landmarks over time. The tour will also visit Indigenous landmarks created between 700 and 2500 years ago. In interpreting the significance of the landmarks, the tour will provide an overview of American Indian history leading us to a greater awareness of modern Indigenous nations and peoples. The tour will take 75 minutes. Sturdy walking shoes are required. Participants are invited to view the exhibition Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 3 before the tour. Meet in the Chazen lobby, 750 University Avenue.
  • Thursday, April 24, 7 p.m.: Short videos and films curated for Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation  3:  “A Future Past.” Wanda Nanibush, curator, writer, and media artist, selected these nine videos (2010 and 2011) to introduce artists working in short and experimental traditions. Their videos use the future to re-examine the past. In the Chazen Auditorium.

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Digital images for media use are available upon request. Contact: Kirstin Pires, Editor, 608-890-4469,

The Chazen Museum of Art is open Tues., Weds., and Fri. 9–5; Thurs. 9–9; Sat. and Sun. 11–5. Admission is free. The museum is located on the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus. The main entrance is wheelchair accessible. Parking is available at the City of Madison State Street Campus Ramp (entrances on Frances and Lake streets) and under University Square. Hourly parking is available in UW lot 46 lower level with credit card payment. Evening and weekend parking is also available in UW lot 83 under Fluno Center, entrance on Frances Street, and in UW lot 7 under Grainger Hall, entrance on Brooks Street. The Chazen will provide sign language interpreters for associated programs by three-week advance request to Anne Lambert, (608) 263-4421 (voice). Information is also available at

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