On Monday, we went to Salem, MA for a visit to the Peabody Essex Museum and the Natures Nation: American Art and the Environment exhibit (on view through May 2, 2019). Following along historical lines with an emphasis on how we humans have impacted the environment, curators offered works from various points in history combined with modern art.
From PEM’s website: “Nature's Nation: American Art and Environment is the first exhibition to trace environmental awareness in American art over the last three centuries. More than 100 works, including iconic masterpieces as well as rare works by such artists as John James Audubon, Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Cole, Valerie Hegarty, Winslow Homer, Georgia O’Keeffe and Jaune Quick-to-See Smith (Salish-Kootenai) compel us to reconsider the relationships between art, the environment and ourselves.”
This is not a review of the exhibit. I am sharing a few works from the exhibit that I particularly enjoyed.
The exhibit began with indigenous artifacts of the past and a Land Acknowledgment reflecting PEM’s presence on what was land once occupied by native people long before it was settled by Europeans. Rachel Allen, one of the PEM curators who worked on this project, wrote this about the statement in her blog post:
“Twelve of the 22 works in the show by Native American artists are from PEM’s collection. The first one you will encounter, a delicately carved bear sculpture, accompanies the Land Acknowledgment — a statement that formally recognizes the Indigenous caretakers of the land and serves to show gratitude to Indigenous people of the region as well as their ancestors and future generations. “
This statement was followed by a video work by Nicholas Galanin. These videos combined indigenous music with modern dance, and then modern music with native american dance. There are two parts with more about his meaning in the description of each video (click to see). I shared on my story on Instagram but the links didn’t work so I wanted to share here:
Another powerful piece, among many, was the video of “Mirror Shield Action 2016” from the protests at Standing Rock in 2016. Click on photo below or link above to see a video of this project.
While there was much more to the exhibit, these video works really spoke to me and were something I wanted to share. I hope you will take some time to read through the links and view the videos. Even better, swing by PEM yourself before May to have a look!