Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas


Discourse on Discovery: Native Perspectives on the Trail
  • Discourse on Discovery: Native Perspectives on the Trail
  • 10-Sep-2005 - 11-Dec-2005
  • South Balcony, Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas

This fall, the Spencer will commemorate the Bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition with an exhibition that explores the Corps of Discovery's journey from the Native point of view. Discourse on Discovery: Native Perspectives on the Trail will center on a portfolio of prints by fifteen contemporary Native artists that the museum recently acquired, and will also include a stunning selection of traditional moccasins, borrowed from the KU Anthropological Research and Cultural Collections. The portfolio, Native Perspectives on the Trail, was organized and published by the Missoula Art Museum, and serves as one example of how Native people are expressing their viewpoints on the Bicentennial. The artists of Native Perspectives on the Trail confront American history and replace stereotypical views with artistic statements of humor, irony and passion. From Sacagewea to commercial imperialism, each artist deals with some of the more problematic areas of American social history surrounding the expedition. As homage to the artists involved, the long miles traveled by The Corps, and the varied Indigenous cultures that welcomed and came to the aid of the expedition, Murphy and Mary Adair, curator of the KU Anthropological Research and Cultural Collections, selected 10 pair of moccasins to display alongside the contemporary work.

Murphy says the combination of traditional and contemporary Native art forms reminds us of the roles America's Indigenous peoples play in American cultural history. "The Lewis and Clark Bicentennial presents the opportunity and the environment for education and change," she writes in the gallery guide that will accompany the exhibition. "The sometimes-mythic framework of American history is replaced with a renewed knowledge of cultures and traditions that have long been ignored."