NCMA debuts monumental exhibit “To Take Shape and Meaning”

The NCMA’s newest exhibit exploring form and design in contemporary American Indian art, “To Take Shape and Meaning,” is on view from March 2 to July 28 and is the museum’s first Native American contemporary art show of this scale since 1989.

A colorful hanging textile piece and a black + white sculpture.

These two works are by textile artist Venancio Aragon (Navajo) (left) and sculptor Raven Halfmoon (Caddo Nation) (right).

Photo by RALtoday

City Editor Cat here. I had the opportunity for an early look at “To Take Shape and Meaning,” an exhibit exploring form and design in contemporary American Indian art, on view from March 2 to July 28 at the NC Museum of Art.

You may not know this, but I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke — so I felt particularly drawn + proud to view this monumental exhibit which was organized by guest curator Nancy Strickland Fields, who serves as director/curator of the Museum of the Southeast American Indian at UNCP. Go Braves.

An artist presenting his car-turned-art piece — a white Honda Civic with a Native Superman and red stripe painted on.

View Tom Farris’ (Otoe-Missouria/Cherokee) take on Superman with a Cherokee letter replacing the iconic “S” on the Superman shield.

Photo by RALtoday

In the exhibit, you’ll view three-dimensional works, ranging from jewelry and basketry to ceramics and cars transformed into art, by 75 Indigenous artists representing over 50 tribes throughout the US and Canada, including eight from NC.

Featuring close to 90 pieces, this exhibition represents the museum’s most extensive showcase of Native American contemporary art since 1989.

Museum director Valerie L. Hillings teased a related initiative coming this spring to the museum park + described the museum’s growing collection as a “landmark project” during the exhibit’s pre-opening remarks.

Brightly embellished Christian Louboutin stilettos.

Don’t miss these Christian Louboutin stilettos which have been meticulously embellished by artist Jamie Okuma (Luiseno, Shoshone-Bannock, Wailaki, and Okinawan).

Photo by RALtoday

“I hope as you go through this exhibition, that not only do you see the art, but you also see the people, vibrant cultures, and that Native peoples are alive and well, and are producing works that speak to our existence and our experiences, and that is really what this exhibition is about,” Strickland Fields said.

Pro tip: Extended exhibit labels are attached to each piece to provide even more information about the artist.

Celebrate the exhibit opening this Saturday, March 2, at the East Building with the NC Indigenous Artist Festival. Interact with artists, explore the gallery without admission fees, create works alongside basket weavers, support Indigenous artists at the vendor fair, and enjoy a performance by the Lumbee dancers + drummers.

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