Emily Arthur: Re-membering / Contemporary Indigenous Printmaking

James Watrous Gallery

Feb. 11, 2024 - Apr. 3, 2022

201 State Street, 3rd Floor
Madison, 53703
PHONE 608.733.6633


Emily Arthur: Re-membering

Emily Arthur’s art practice is informed by a concern for the environment, displacement, exile, and the return home from dislocation and separation. She works with zoologists, botanists, and poets to integrate the disciplines of art and science, and seeks to use tradition and story to make sense of our changing experience of home.

Within the history of printmaking, lithography, etching and screenprint have been used to publish botanical and ornithological illustrations for the purposes of naming, identification, capture, and collection. Arthur’s contemporary work in printmaking seeks to change that perspective, from colonizing and dominating the land to observing and expressing how plants and animals carry the story of human impact on our natural environment.

The idea of impact is very different from influence, which suggests a kind of exchange between the land and us. Arthur sees nature as an interdependent living force, rather than as the backdrop for human events. Land is living matter that holds a story, and her objective as an artist is bearing witness to the changing relationship between people, plants, animals, and our shared sacred space. As environmental crisis moves into the foreground of our lives, she visualizes a meeting point where all can survive: not only to save native species, but also to save the native parts of our selves.

Contemporary Indigenous Printmaking

This exhibition features prints by contemporary Native American artists Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Corwin (Corky) Clairmont, Melanie Yazzie, C. Maxx Stevens, Joe Feddersen, Edgar Heap of Birds, Truman Lowe, and Fritz Scholder, from the collection of artists Emily Arthur and John Hitchcock and the estate of Truman Lowe. The majority of these artworks were acquired by invitation to a print portfolio exchange, in which multiple original prints are traded among a select group of artists responding to a singular topic from multiple perspectives. Often used for the purpose of teaching, a print exchange generates a community of reciprocal learning, mentorship, and collaboration.

Ongoing support for the creation of contemporary Native print practices includes Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts in Pendleton, Oregon, founded by James Lavadour (Walla Walla); First American Art magazine, edited by America Meredith (Cherokee Nation); Indigenous curators and scholars such as heather ahtone (Choctaw/Chickasaw Nation) and Nancy Marie Mithlo (Chiricahua Apache); and contemporary Native American programming in the arts such as 5 Plain Questions, a podcast hosted by Joe Williams (Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate) and produced by the Plains Art Museum in Fargo, North Dakota.

The James Watrous Gallery is open Thursdays through Saturdays from 12-6 p.m. and Sundays from 12-5 p.m. Please note that proof of vaccination or negative test is currently required to enter.

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