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Native American Art Now. (Curator: Leesa Fanning)
September 7 – October 7, 2023

Sundaram Tagore Gallery (Chelsea)
542 West 26th Street, New York, NY 10001

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Native American Art Now brings together 25 innovative Indigenous artists from Canada and the United States. With galleries in London, Singapore and New York, Sundaram Tagore Gallery is a leading international contemporary art gallery who represents established and emerging artists from around the globe since 2000. The gallery specializes in work that is aesthetically and intellectually rigorous, infused with humanism and art historically significant and meaningful created by artists deeply engaged in cross-cultural explorations.

Ace’s new work Alterity (2023) critiques the impact of anthropology and the social sciences to draw attention to historic settler museum collection practices and removal of cultural arts under a salvage archeology paradigm that is historically fraught with questionable underpinnings and misguided representations of Otherness. Equally poignant, the work is also a critique of “craft versus fine art” and “high versus low art” and how settler lexicon of terminologies (including the terms alterity/otherness) have been used to control and relegate Indigenous cultural arts to the margins. Ace intentionally juxtaposes and interjects elements of modernity into his work “altering” this notion of cultural stasis while drawing attention to the derogatory aspects of Otherness.

Ace asks the viewer to go deeper into the meaning and intent of the work and consider his contemporary bandoliers as a cultural continuum with distinct lines of cultural continuity with the past. This is instilled through an integration of Anishinaabe cultural aesthetics and code including animate/inanimate states as reflected in  Anishinaabemowin (spoken language) and the aspect of glass beads as energy “spirit-berries” and its relational simile with the electronic capacitors and their ability to store and release energy. Likewise, the embedded monitor with motion sensor and the digital macro images of historical beadwork speaks to the integration of contemporary media as “the bead as pixel”.

Ace’s contemporary art practice is not about replicating Anishinaabe cultural objects as an exact replica, but instead, his work is about responding to and referencing historical cultural arts as a leverage and inspiration to create new contemporary works that are relevant for today: a confluence between the historical and contemporary. Ace’s work is a subtle nod to the inherent innovation of Indigenous cultures to adapt new technologies while maintaining a distinct cultural aesthetic that pushes and transforms boundaries, while simultaneously maintaining a distinct Anishinaabe cultural aesthetic that connects generations to ancestors since time immemorial.


Barry Ace, Norman Akers, Marcus Amerman, Christi Belcourt, Monty Claw, Lola S. Cody, Richard Glazer Danay, Beau Dick, Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds, Robert Houle, Matthew Kirk, Athena LaTocha, Nadia Myre, Dan Namingha, Marianne Nicolson, Jaad Kuujus (Meghann O’Brien), Virgil Ortiz, Preston Singletary, Duane Slick, Bently Spang, Lonnie Vigil, Will Wilson.

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WhiteHot Magazine of Contemporary Art: New narratives in Native American Art at Chelsea’s contemporary art gallery Sundaram Tagore