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September 6, 2023
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Dora Ricci


New York State Museum Opens Exhibition: “Each One Inspired: Indigenous Art Across the Homelands”

A new exhibition, Each One Inspired: Indigenous Art Across the Homelands, is now open for the public to view at the New York State Museum, State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa announced today. The new exhibition which features more than 60 original creations of Indigenous artwork by artists whose homelands lie within what is now New York will be open through March 2024. This collection of contemporary art focuses on Indigenous histories, teachings, and communities and how they relate to and inspire our relationships and connections to our environment.

Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr. said, “Indigenous art is significant because it captures the culture, traditions, and expressions of native communities. This new exhibition will help to foster a deeper understanding of their perspectives and help to promote cultural diversity and appreciation of the identities and contributions of Indigenous people to the history of our State.”

State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa said, “When experiencing this new exhibition, Museum guests will have the opportunity to make strong connections with Indigenous art, heritage, and traditions and how they relate to the profound history of New York State. Furthermore, the display of this exceptional collection helps to promote cross-cultural understanding while also sharing unique artistic expressions and the resilience of Indigenous people.”

The exhibition is organized in interrelated themes which are central to Indigenous art and culture: Lands; Ancestors and Histories; Community, Nation, and Family; and Plants and Animals.

Highlights of the exhibition include:

Exhibition Highlights

G. Peter Jemison
Onöndowa’ga:’ (Seneca)
1687 War (after Guernica), 2015
Acrylic, watercolor, and pencil on hot press paper

Ganondagan State Historic Site, where Peter was the site manager from 1985 to 2022, is located on what was once a Seneca village. In 1687, the French forces attacked the village. However, they were outsmarted by the Seneca who sent their women and children safely away and burned the remaining crops and longhouses before the French could destroy them. Jemison’s painting references Picasso’s Guernica (1937) to make a statement about the horrors of warfare.

Diane Schenandoah, Honwadiyenawa’sek (One Who Helps Them)
OnΛyota’a:ka (Oneida Nation, NY)
Our Grandfathers–The Thunderbeings, 2019
White cedar and Texas mesquite

This sculpture honors Yothihsótha (Our Grandfathers) Latihsakayu∙téhseˀ (The Thunderers). In Haudenosaunee creation narratives, the Thunderers bring the gift of rain to the Earth and all living creatures. Their presence signals the beginning of spring.

Wilma M. Zumpano-Cook
Kanien’ kehá:ka (Mohawk)
The Vessel, 2018
Glass vase covered with velvet and cotton fabric panels and embellished with glass beads

This piece is inspired by Haudenosaunee pottery from the 1500s. This vessel is made of fabric panels and glass beads covering a glass vase that provides the form. The beadwork designs and techniques Zumpano-Cook uses were developed by beadworkers in the 19th and 20th centuries and continued to be used by Mohawk beadworkers.

Karen Ann Hoffman
OnΛyota’a:ka (Oneida Nation, WI)
Bernard the Buzzard Bag, 2018
Velvet, calico cloth, glass beads, 14k seed beads, ribbon, whitetail deer toes.

Ken D. Williams Jr.
Onöndowa’ga:’ (Seneca) and Arapaho
We Continue Her Beautiful Legacy, 2019
Glass beads, Swarovski crystals, freshwater pearls, silk, polished Quahog shell

Gahano, or Caroline Parker, (1826–1892) was an extraordinary beadwork artist from the Tonawanda Seneca Nation. Her brother, Ely Parker, introduced her to his friend, anthropologist Lewis H. Morgan, in the mid-1840s. With the assistance of the Parker family, Morgan donated a collection of Haudenosaunee material culture items to New York State between 1847 and 1851.

Morgan commissioned a series of daguerreotypes featuring members of the Parker family, including one with Gahano that serves as the model for Williams’s portrayal of her on his beaded bag. The garments Gahano wears were made by her and are part of the State Museum’s collections. Gahano’s legacy to Haudenosaunee beadworkers continues to influence artists, including Williams, who lovingly depicts her in Swarovski crystals and vintage glass beads, surrounded by designs from the beadwork for which she is well known.

Brandon Lazore
Onoñda’gegá’ (Onondaga)
Smoke Dancers, 2017
Acrylic on canvas

Yaihra? tha? (Murisa Printup) and Rayekwiratkyehena:we:k (Robert D’Alimonte)

Skarù:rę? (Tuscarora)

Skarù:rę? Seeking Peace, 2018

White pine plaque with bas relief

In August 2018, the Great Law Recital was hosted by the Tuscarora Nation. By all accounts, this was the first time this had been done since we made the migration up north in the early 1700s to join our brothers and sisters among the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.

During the early 1700s, as colonists were encroaching on our land, a war broke out. We lost nearly 1,000 men, women, and children. Our ancestors headed north to seek peace among the Haudenosaunee—people we lived with about 1,300 years before.

We have lived as the Sixth Nation of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy to this day.

The recital of the Great Law is an event for Haudenosaunee people. The responsibility of hosting the gathering rotates throughout the different Haudenosaunee Nations. The gathering includes leaders and knowledge keepers reciting and sharing oral histories, teachings, and philosophies in Haudenosaunee languages.

Inspired by this historic event, Yaihra? tha? and Rayekwiratkyehena:we:k collaborated to create this piece. It depicts a number of key events: the Tuscarora Migration, the Tuscarora Taken-In Belt, the Great Tree of Peace, and the seven Tuscarora Clans. The Clan Mothers, each holding a gustoweh, are shown raising up their chiefs under the Tree of Peace.

High-resolution photos of select art and artifacts in the exhibition are available here.

The State Museum is a program of the New York State Education Department’s Office of Cultural Education. Located at 222 Madison Avenue in Albany, the Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It is closed on the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day. Admission is free. For additional information, visit the New York State Museum website.