IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA) presents

Summer 2013 Exhibitions

Opening Night




Event Description

IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA) celebrates the opening of its Summer 2013 Exhibitions. Featuring Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 3 / Contemporary Native North American Art from the Northeast and Southeast, Selected Works, and solo exhibitions by Cannupa Hanska Luger: STEREOTYPE: Misconceptions of the Native American, Jacob Meders: Divided Lines, and Steven J. Yazzie: The Mountain. Also featuring SWAIA's Indian Market Moving Image Classification X winners in the Helen Hardin Media Gallery. The exhibitions and films open to the public on Friday, August 16 and continue through December 31.

The opening reception will take place on Thursday, August 15, from 5p.m. to 7p.m. at MoCNA (108 Cathedral Place). The reception will feature a special performance by Oneida-Iroquois singer, composer and acoustic guitarist, Joanne Shenandoah.The opening is free to the public.



  • Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 3 / Contemporary Native North American Art from the Northeast and Southeast, Selected Works

Main, Fritz Scholder and Foyer Galleries

Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 3 / Contemporary Native North American Art from the Northeast and Southeast, Selected Works concludes a cycle of landmark exhibitions conceived and organized for the Museum of Arts and Design, New York City by Guest Curator, Ellen Taubman, to present a comprehensive and in-depth cross section of innovative and groundbreaking work by Indigenous artists who are expressing a new vitality and spirit of experimentation in Native art - artists who embrace tradition while moving forward and looking towards the future.  In June 2012, Changing Hands 3, comprising more than 100 works by 85 Native artists from the United States and Canada, had its premiere showing at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City, followed by an international tour. The variety of mediums was as diverse as the broad geographic region from which the artists came, encompassing the areas east of the Mississippi - the Great Lakes, Woodlands, Northeast, Southeast and up through the Canadian Subarctic. Changing Hands 3, Selected Works opening at the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA) in August 2013, will focus on a number of the works featured in the original exhibition. Some choices have been made based on the space limitations within MoCNA's galleries as a consideration; the curatorial vision of the edited exhibition has also sought to acknowledge MoCNA's ongoing commitment "to increasing public understanding and appreciation of/for contemporary Native art".  

As with Changing Hands 1 and  2, Changing Hands 3 recasts the featured works through the lens of contemporary art and design from around the globe. The exhibition considers the new generation of Native artists who utilize and incorporate contemporary techniques, materials, aesthetics, and iconography into their art and design practice, with a goal towards transcending ethnographic and anthropological interpretations and challenging preconceived notions and stereotypes of Indigenous art and artists.  Ultimately, the overriding goal has been to effect a reevaluation of contemporary Native art in an international arena. 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. Through an extraordinary melding of past and present, and direct opposition between stereotype and tradition, the Native artists featured in Changing Hands 3 confront what it means today to be Native and to be an artist.

Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 3 / Contemporary Native Art from the Northeast and Southeast was organized by the Museum of Arts and Design, New York and has been made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts. The exhibition catalogue was supported in part by a grant from the Smithsonian Institution's Indigenous Contemporary Arts Program. The presentation of Changing Hands 3, Selected Works at MoCNA is made possible with additional support from the Dobkin Family Foundation.


  • Steven J. Yazzie: The Mountain

North Gallery

Steven J. Yazzie's work is about land, as a place of personal reflection, a framework for Indigenous cultural relevance, and a point of reference to changing politics related to urbanization.

For the exhibition the 'mountain', Yazzie recognizes place as an entity with multidimensional interpretations and has become an essential location for his creative investigations, as a source of history, knowledge and power. The new installation includes sculpture, painting, digital photographic prints, and a multichannel video to build experiential entry points into the various narratives associated with the 'mountain'.  One notable component in the exhibition comprises of a three-channel video ^ (Looking For Tsosido), which explores the narrative of process and journey.  Tsosido, a word with unknown meaning, was Yazzie's father's nickname when he was a child. This gap or mystery in his family history has become one point of departure in the larger story in the work. Tsosido therefore functions as a point of personal reference, an evolving polymorphous mythology, containing framework for building a new relationship with personal history in the context of a culturally significant place and the subjectivity of transient action.

About the Artist: Steven J. Yazzie (b.1970) Newport Beach, CA; lives and works in Phoenix, AZ. Yazzie is currently completing a BFA at Arizona State University and studied at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, ME. He has served honorably with the United States Marine Corps. Yazzie has been apart of numerous regional, national, and international exhibitions. Most notably he has exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; National Museum of the American Indian, New York, NY; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada; the Museum of Contemporary Native Art, Santa Fe, NM. Throughout Arizona, Yazzie has exhibited at the Heard Museum, Phoenix Art Museum, Arizona State University Art Museum, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Tucson Museum of Contemporary Art, Tucson Museum of Art, and the Museum of Northern Arizona. Yazzie's work can be found in a number of public and private collections throughout the country. Yazzie has also received a number of regional and national grants; Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, The National Museum of the American Indian, the Arizona Commission on the Arts, and the Joan Mitchell Award with the arts collective, Postcommodity.



  • Jacob Meders: Divided Lines

Jacob Meders, Divided Lines, 2013 (details),woodcut (image courtesy of the artist)
Hall Gallery

In the exhibition Divided Lines, artist Jacob Meders examines the complex misrepresentation of Indigenous peoples in North America from the early depictions created by artists of 15th /16th century European society. By incorporating an aesthetic that emulates the historic woodcuts, Meders' panoramic installation toys with the idea of assimilation, emulating figures with a likeness to Indigenous and western European cultures as one body. Divided Lines challenges a superior perceived identity shaped from a lasting Western perspective built over time.

About the Artist: Jacob Meders is a member of the Mechoopda Indian Tribe of Chico Rancheria, CA. He presently lives in Phoenix, AZ. He graduated in 2007 with a BFA in painting and a minor in printmaking at Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, GA and in 2011 received an MFA in printmaking at Arizona State University.

Meders' work focuses on altered perceptions of place, culture, and identity built on the assimilation and homogenization of Indigenous peoples. Through the printmaking process, Meders reexamines varied documentations of Native Americans that hold on to stereotypical ideas and how they have affected the culture of native people. Using book forms and prints as a symbol of western knowledge and the linear mind, Meders deploys them as a vehicle to challenge new perceptions of Native Americans.


  • Cannupa Hanska Luger: STEREOTYPE: Misconceptions of the Native American

South Gallery

"Native American" is an umbrella term for the Indigenous population of North America. This term, being so broad, has allowed many external source interpretations from anthropologists to Hollywood directors.

The reality of the matter is that the continent of North America is vast with environmental complexity ranging from arctic tundra to semi-tropic wetlands. These variations have developed into culturally rich and autonomous societies that bare very little resemblance to one another across such a large land mass.

The use of boom boxes or better yet, ghetto blasters as a vessel for response to some of the stereotypes placed upon these cultures creates an icon of pop-culture. This icon is an obvious play on words as it is a type of stereo. The ceramic construction of the vessels is also a melding of cultures. Applying clay traditions to archaic technologies for an altogether modern aesthetic. Each boom box will create a space for observation of Native American stereotypes. The purpose of the exhibition is to expose the absurdity of fixed labels.

About the artist: Born in North Dakota on the Standing Rock Reservation in a small town known as Fort Yates, Cannupa Hanska Luger comes from a place of "...not knowing...". His mother, Kathy "Elk Woman" Whitman, is faith, his father, Robert "Bruz" Luger, is hard work, and he remains the middle distance. His genetics are derived from Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lakota, Austrian, Norwegian and trace elements of suns and moons and dust. Cannupa Hanska spent his summers on his father's ranch in North Dakota and learned the benefit of labor. His mother raised him and his siblings on art, it provided food, clothing, and shelter, and so self-expression was in a way mother's milk. As an artist's child he understands the ebb and flow of the life that artists choose and he too feels compelled to do the same. Now is the time to love and to fail and to learn and to decay, the universe is, and that is all...and so it goes.