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Lewis and Clark Territory: Contemporary Artists Revisit Place, Race, and Memory


The Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804 - 1806 has become one of the leading symbols of American identity -- rugged individuals conquering a continent and defining a new nation. To commemorate this historical journey, Tacoma Art Museum organized Lewis and Clark Territory: Contemporary Artists Revisit Place, Race, and Memory on view February 12 - June 6, 2004. The exhibition of 78 works by 30 artists will be the first exhibition following the acclaimed Dale Chihuly glass installation Mille Fiori in the Annette B. Weyerhaeuser gallery. (right: Thomas Haukaas, Lakota Special Boy Shirt, 2002. brain-tanned buckskin, beads, wool, cotton cloth, and thread, 19 ? x 28 x 1 inches, Collection of the artist. Photo: Christine Reynolds)

Lewis and Clark Territory draws from three overarching themes of the Lewis and Clark journals -- place, race, and memory -- to explore conditions of the American West today. The exhibition includes works by living artists in a wide range of media that offer a unique opportunity to examine difficult issues and provide insight into questions about landscape, race, and our sense of tradition that continue to shape the landscape and culture of the American West.

"Lewis and Clark Territory uses the extensive journals of the Lewis and Clark expedition as a touchstone for understanding the nuances and complexities of life in the American West," notes Associate Curator Rock Hushka who organized the exhibition. "Metaphorically speaking, artists represented in this exhibition act as modern day explorers and journalists of the American experience." (right: Peter Rostovsky, Epiphany Model 3, 2001. oil, air-dry clay, plastic, aqua resin, and acrylic, 74 x 72 x 12 inches, overall. Collection of the artist, courtesy of James Harris Gallery. Photo: courtesy of the artist)

The exhibition includes a wide array of media, styles, and strategies that artists have used to examine concerns in the West. For example, Anne Appleby's abstract paintings reflect on the power of place and nature. Mark Ruwedel's photographs critique the presence of nuclear power in Washington and the politics that surround it, and Bently Spang examines how mainstream American culture represents Native Americans in his short video work.

Other highlights from the exhibition include: Indian County Today (1996), a painting by Native American artist Jaune Quick-to-See Smith; Ephiphany Model 3 (2001) by Peter Rostovsky; and January (1997) by Michael Brophy. The exhibition also features Lakota Special Boy Shirt (2002), a child's protective shirt made of buckskin, beads, wool, cotton and thread by Thomas Haukaas; Orca (2002), a glass sculpture by Marvin Oliver; and Inside Out Sally Bag (1997), by Pat Courtney Gold.

Tacoma Art Museum in association with the University of Washington Press will release a full-color catalogue in February documenting the exhibition. The catalogue includes essays from Hushka and Thomas Haukaas, exhibiting artist and scholar of contemporary Native American art. Tacoma Art Museum and Washington State History Museum also organized an undergraduate symposium to further explore the themes presented in Lewis and Clark's many journal entries. Paper presentations and the keynote lecture by renowned Lewis and Clark historian and professor, Gary E. Moulton, Thomas C. Sorensen Professor of American History at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln will be held Saturday, April 24. (right: Robert Yoder, Fingerlakes, 2001, painted wood, 60 x 96 inches, Collection of the artist, courtesy of Howard House Contemporary Art, Seattle. Photo: Arthur S. Aubry) 

The neighboring Washington State History Museum will be exhibiting Beyond Lewis and Clark: The Army Explores the West from February 14 ­ October 31, 2004. This major national exhibition includes Meriwether Lewis' air rifle, original field notes, and maps drafted by William Clark. Tacoma Art Museum members can enjoy free admission to the Washington State History Museum during Lewis and Clark Territory (February 12 ­ June 6).

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