Fifty years ago, the Institute of American Indian Arts opened its doors to promising young Native American artists from across the country. Today, many of those artists are recognized around the world for their groundbreaking, contemporary work. These artists, including one with strong Durango ties, are now featured at the Ethnological Museum of Berlin in Germany in a special exhibit, “Native American Modernism.”
Kevin Red Star, a member of the Institute’s inaugural class, was the featured speaker at Sunday’s opening. A member of the Crow Nation of Montana, Red Star’s contemporary representations of traditional Native American subject matter is on display across the country at The Smithsonian, the Heard Museum, the Institute of American Indian Arts Museum and the U.S. Department of State. He’s also represented locally at Sorrel Sky Gallery.
“Kevin Red Star’s work is groundbreaking,” said Shanan Campbell Wells, owner of Sorrel Sky. “He is one of the foremost contemporary Native American artists today. The exhibit in Berlin proves how important Native American art is on an international scale.”
One of nine children, Kevin grew up on a Crow Indian Reservation in rural Montana. Never been on a plane, rarely out of Montana, and speaking English as a second language, Red Star met severe culture shock upon beginning school at the Institute. Along with his fellow students, Red Star was encouraged to explore his own culture and those of other native peoples.
“Native American Modernism” also features work from R.C. Gorman, Allan Houser, and Fritz Schoulder, among many others. Highlighting the last 40 years of Native American modernism, the exhibit gives insight into the social, political, economic and cultural aspects of the North American Indian.