As an educational exhibit about the cultural displacement felt among Native Americans, the current group show at DiverseWorks suits the purposes of curator Carolyn Lee Anderson and co-curator Emily Johnson. Both artists are tribal descendants and share an internal longing for their ancestral cultures. As an art exhibit, however, the results are mixed.
The works on display vary from folksy stuff to high-quality conceptual work, and there are hits and misses along the way (Anderson's own Self Portrait: Between Dinetah and Mni Sota is a particularly cheesy and new-agey "miss"). But overall, the show scores for its range of personality and idiosyncratic portrait of the Native psyche. Standouts include Shan Goshorn's quirky photograph Indin Car, a snapshot of guys dressed in Native gear and makeup, in a truck and perhaps on the way to a festival performance. Take away the context, though, and they could be en route to a bizarre metal show.
The Brady Bunch goes to the reservation in Kennetha Greenwood and Kimberly Rodriguez's A Very Braidy Bunch, two photo assemblages that mimic the TV show's iconic theme grid image. On the left, a stereotypical depiction, complete with a teenage mother and an old drunk; on the right, a grid of success stories (a doctor, a graduate, a musician).
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In Daniel McCoy, Jr.'s poppy, comic-bookish Andrew Jackson Meets Voltron, the seventh president and enforcer of the Indian Removal Act is challenged by the early-'80s anime character at the scene of an Indian genocide. And Nicolas Galanin's hypnotic two-part video Tsu Heidei Shugaxtutaan juxtaposes a dancer poppin' and lockin' to tribal percussion with the same dancer performing a ceremonial dance (in tribal costume) to contemporary electronic music, artfully linking past and present.
The show runs through June 11 at DiverseWorks, 1117 E. Freeway. For information, call 713-223-8346.