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PATHWAYS: Explorations in Native American Culture
(Transamerica Pyramid Lobby, San Francisco, CA, 2000)

Pathways addresses some of the ways Native American artwork and artists have influenced contemporary artists as well as the influence of contemporary culture on Native American artists. Artists included in the exhibition are: Rebecca Bluestone, Joan Brink, Paul Dacey, William Morris, Dan Namingha, Les Namingha, Diego Romero, Ramona Sakiestewa, Elisabeth Sunday, Judy Tuwaletstiwa, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith and Emmi Whitehorse.

Artists have always shown us our world, often from their unique cultural points of view. Because of the interconnectedness of the modern global environment, artists often look to numerous sources for inspiration. The artists in this exhibition begin with their own unique cultural viewpoints but look to a mix of cultures and artistic traditions as sources for inspiration. Native Americans have deeply rooted and refined cultural traditions and art-making practices that both preserve and expand their culture, and that have traveled beyond indigenous practitioners to influence non-Native American artists. Pathways seeks to explore these artistic and conceptual directions as they are pursued by contemporary artists.

As early as the Abstract Expressionists, painters like Jackson Pollack were looking to Native American artists for inspiration. Pollack’s observations of Navajo sand painters were the source of inspiration for his drip paintings. Joan Brink’s intricate and refined baskets combine inspirations from the lightship baskets of Nantucket with the forms of Southwestern Native American pottery. Brink speaks of being inspired by the Navajo concept of the ‘beauty path.’ Combining both the beauty and the balance associated with this concept, Brink’s baskets are grounded in tradition but have an eye to the future.


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