Shapeshifting: Transformations in Native American Art is an exhibition at the Peabody Essex Museum is Massachusetts, on view from January 14 to April 29, 2012. It is being hailed as one of the largest Native American Art exhibitions to open in North America in more than 30 years.

art installation, Kent MonkmanThéâtre de Cristal, 2007  Kent Monkman, Cree Artist
chandelier, plastic beads, acrylic string, cabochons, simulated buffalo hide and super 8 films
© Kent Monkman, image courtesy MacKenzie Art Gallery, photograph by Don Hall.

The scope of this exhibit is pretty amazing, including sculpture, textiles, photography, ceramics, paintings, and large installations. Items are drawn from collections in the U.S., Canada and Europe.  The art displayed represents the Native American culture from 200 B.C.E. to the present.

art installation, R. BelmoreAnishinaabe; Fringe, 2008;Rebecca Belmore (born 1960)
Inkjet print on paper
© Rebecca Belmore, image courtesy Rebecca Belmore, photograph by Henri Robideau.

Seeing images from this exhibition could shift the shape that we might automatically assign to Native American art, realizing it is not simply ethnographic craft.

necklace, Pat PruittCSST V2.0, 2011, Pat Pruitt, Laguna Pueblo artist
stainless steel necklace

Wicked Local Photo by Nicole Goodhue Boyd

The show is grouped into four conceptual frameworks consisting of: Changing, Knowing, Locating and Voicing.  The works are placed in context as artistic achievements rather than being shown as historical artifacts.  By doing this, it impacts and changes the  common views on Native American art, reinforcing the continuity between past and present. Read more: New show transforms understanding of Native American Art

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