Phoenix's Heard Museum puts Canadian Indigenous art on display | Phoenix New Times

The Indigenous art of Canada shines at the Heard Museum's latest show

"Early Days: Indigenous Art from the McMichael" brings two centuries of Native Canadian art to Phoenix.
Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun (b. 1957). "New Climate Landscape" (Northwest Coast Climate Change), 2019. Acrylic on canvas, 193 x 243.8 cm. 2020.10 Purchase 2020, BMO Financial Group.
Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun (b. 1957). "New Climate Landscape" (Northwest Coast Climate Change), 2019. Acrylic on canvas, 193 x 243.8 cm. 2020.10 Purchase 2020, BMO Financial Group. Provided by the McMichael Art Collection and Heard Museum
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The Heard Museum has partnered with the McMichael Canadian Art Collection to bring the first large-scale survey of Indigenous art from Canada to be presented internationally.

The "Early Days: Indigenous Art from the McMichael" exhibition curates a collection of artworks and cultural artifacts crafted by the Indigenous people who occupy the region now known as Canada. The showcase pieces revolve around the theme of colonial contact and exchange, dating back to the late 18th century. Personal garments, paintings, sculptures, jewelry, masks, and photos can be seen in this display. It is on display through Jan. 2, 2024.

Diana Pardue, chief curator of the Heard Museum, says that this “eye-catching and different” exhibit offers a unique perspective for visitors.

“We were so pleased to have an opportunity to work with the McMichael Canadian Art Center to bring this exhibit to Phoenix because it provides an opportunity for our visitors to see collections that we do not have in the Heard Museum in large volumes,” Pardue says. Heard Museum's collections center around American Indian art.

The diverse array of objects on display ranges from 18th-century ceremonial regalia to the contemporary creations of artists from the 1980s, unveiling the evolution of cultures into the 21st century.

“There are historic works and then there are contemporary artists' responses to that work and interpretations. That is something that is subtle and interesting,” Pardue says.

Works from contemporary artists include Norval Morrisseau, Carl Beam, Alex Janvier, Kent Monkman, Meryl McMaster and Rebecca Belmore. The works of living artists provide a deep connection with the issues at the heart of the Indigenous experience.

Pardue notes the exhibition’s subtle blend of historical works alongside the responses and interpretations of contemporary artists. Their works display their culture and the historical and ongoing justice since contact with Europeans, including the dispossession of land, forced assimilation and imposition of laws.

One of the works by Faye HeavyShield, for example, shows six shoes made from plaster that represent her and her five sisters. The shoes are in a circle to represent solidarity to defend against all threats. According to the work, HeavyShield and her siblings were separated from their family and forbidden to speak their native language.

Heard Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are $22.50 in advance, $25 at the door, with discounts for students, seniors, military members and children. American Indians may attend for free.
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