Native American Heritage Month continues this week and feels particularly relevant with Thanksgiving on the horizon. With the demystification of the original history of the festival, an opportunity to better understand not only the historical record, but also contemporary Aboriginal culture. In a new expansive show at Frye Art Museum, First Nations artist in Canada Duane Linklater (Omaskêko Cree) explores the intricacies of one’s own Indigenous identity, of being both Indigenous and enmeshed in “settler culture”.
Duane Linklater: mymothersside (until January 16, 2022), is a series of varied installations, some of the most visually striking are his “flat sculptures”. These large linen semicircles – mimicking the canvas covering of a teepee, a traditional Cree structure – dot the walls like huge moths, sometimes floating on the floor. Digitally printed and dyed in smoky colors, the fabric is sometimes marked with an X, reminiscent of the ambiguous signatures that Indigenous leaders used to sign treaties. The deconstruction of the tipis and their unusual arrangement suggest a displacement.
I was particularly struck by an exhibition of Linklater 3D printed sculptures created from historical artifacts. His deliberate choice of inferior technology gave rise to imprecise suggestions of figures such as dolls, totems, and Hopi masks, underscoring the generally vague understanding of a clustered “indigenous history”. Likewise, his large-scale prints of computer images of Navajo cover photos – several times removed from the original to the framed copy – speak of erasure, erosion, and the evolution of culture. .
Tomorrow, watch Crosscut for a collection of Indigenous art exhibits, installations, and craft fairs to visit during the Thanksgiving holiday.