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An Indigenous Art Exhibition Examines America's Roots

SITE Santa Fe's 'much wider than a line' exhibit takes a visceral look at pre-American culture.

by Diana Shi
Jun 12 2016, 11:15am

Remnant, Moose Jaw Boned, 2016. Images courtesy the artist, unless otherwise noted

By weaving in the histories of pre-American peoples, the much wider than a line exhibition at SITE Santa Fe reexamines American art from its pre-colonial beginnings to the present. 

The driving theme of the New Mexico-based show congeals in the Paolo Soleri Amphitheater. Named after the utopian architect behind Arcosanti, the unique space was constructed with aboriginal aesthetics taking center stage. During its years of activity, the theater offered a stage setting for indigenous performers who adopted the non-governmentally-funded site as their own. 

Paolo Soleri Theatre, c. 1975. Courtesy of IAIA Archives, Santa Fe, New Mexico 

The exhibit follows along three conceptual tributaries: “vernacular strategies,” “indigenous understandings,” and “shared territories,” according to the SITE press release. Five different curators, including Rocío Aranda-Alvarado, Kathleen Ash-Milby, Pip Day, Pablo León de la Barra, and Kiki Mazzucchelli, helm the biennial exhibition, while a selection of 35 artists, spanning 11 American countries, from Chile to the UK, populate the show with their work. Artist Sonya Kelliher-Combs, who is based in Alaska, uses Athabascan tribal techniuques in her process. Her mind-boggling mixed-media works are derived from traditional tanning and crafting practices, resulting in hide and quill-covered painting/sculpture hybrids. View some of Kelliher-Combs' works below:

Remnant, Caribou Antler, 2016. 

much wider than a line, SITElines.2016:NewPerspectives On Art of the Americas

Remnant, Moscox Fur, 2016

Remnant, Seal Intestine, 2016

Learn more about the latest SITE Sante Fe show, much wider than a line, which runs July 16 through January 8, here.  

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