Past Forward: Native American Art from Gilcrease Museum

By Memorial Art Gallery

Wednesday, July 24, 2024 11:00am to 5:00pm

+ 8 dates

  • Thursday, July 25, 2024 11:00am to 9:00pm
  • Friday, July 26, 2024 11:00am to 5:00pm
  • Saturday, July 27, 2024 11:00am to 5:00pm
  • Sunday, July 28, 2024 11:00am to 5:00pm
  • Wednesday, July 31, 2024 11:00am to 5:00pm
  • Thursday, August 1, 2024 11:00am to 9:00pm
  • Friday, August 2, 2024 11:00am to 5:00pm
  • Saturday, August 3, 2024 11:00am to 5:00pm

500 University Avenue, Rochester, NY 14607
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Past Forward: Native American Art from Gilcrease Museum illuminates the extensive collection built by Native philanthropist and arts patron Thomas Gilcrease (Muscogee Nation; 1890–1962). Surveying more than 3,000 years of Native American art, it reveals his unprecedented devotion to Indigenous traditions that is carried on by Gilcrease Museum today. Through portraiture, abstraction, sculpture, and archaeological works, viewers will explore visual motifs and systems of knowledge that connect different ancestries, time, and space. This enriching exhibition affirms these works as vital to American art history.

American oilman Thomas Gilcrease, the founder of Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, Oklahoma, was of Muscogee (Creek) ancestry and sought to tell the story of the United States through art that emphasized Native cultures and the history of the American West. As scholars and curators increasingly embrace the imperative to foreground Native perspectives, Gilcrease Museum is distinct for having been shaped by the connoisseurship of an Indigenous collector who maintained personal relationships with a number of the Native artists whose works he acquired. 

Past Forward takes a thematic approach to Native American art history, considering ways in which Indigenous artists across time have conceptualized and represented similar subjects. The exhibition will be structured around transhistorical themes, each featuring two- and three-dimensional Indigenous objects ranging from ancient to contemporary. As a comparative context, a small selection of works by Euro-American artists such as Charles Russell and George Catlin depicting Native American peoples and landscapes are included. In addition to offering an overview of Indigenous visual culture through highlights from Gilcrease Museum, Past Forward also amplifies the perspectives of Native community members, scholars, and artists through the exhibition’s multi-vocal interpretive program and catalog entries that feature varied Indigenous perspectives.

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