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Action/Abstraction Redefined

Fri, July 28, 2017Sun, July 7, 2019

Hank Gobin (Tulalip Snohomish), Northwest Design, 1966, Casein on paper, MoCNA Collection SNH-6

Hank Gobin (Tulalip Snohomish), Northwest Design, 1966, Casein on paper, MoCNA Collection SNH-6

Action/Abstraction Redefined features paintings and works on paper from the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA) permanent collection created in the 1960s and 1970s. The artists in this exhibition challenged stereotypical expectations of Indian art by experimenting with American modern art movements such as Abstract Expressionism, Color Field and Hard-edge Painting combined with art influences from their own cultural heritage.

In post-World War II America, many modern artists such as Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, and Jackson Pollock found inspiration in mythology, Native art or their inner self to break away from the representation of objects in the visual world. They felt realistic perspectives and narrative conventions were no longer appropriate artistic tools to respond to the uncertain, tension-wracked atomic age. Among the Abstract Expressionists were also several Native modern artists like George Morrison (Chippewa), John Hoover (Aleut), Edna Massey (Cherokee), and Patrick Swazo Hinds (Tesuque Pueblo), who redefined the concept of abstraction by creating works informed by their own traditional aesthetics combined with art influences coming out of New York and California.

Some of these artists approached their chosen medium in a direct, intuitive and spontaneous way, and as a result their paintings and drawings are very intense and expressive. Several of their works seem to express the artist’s inner feelings and emotions. Drips, splatters, and accidental gestures are part of their compositions. Others were interested in experimenting with biomorphic shapes. Some of their drawings are characterized by fields of pure flat colors, and reflect their interest in the effect of color on human perception. Like all artists, the artists featured in this exhibition were working from their own individual experiences.

<em>Action/Abstraction Redined</em> catalog available for purchase

Action/Abstraction Redined catalog available for purchase

This departure helped develop a philosophy that formed an entire art education revolution for Native America. Funded through the US Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) opened in 1962 as a vocational fine arts high school for Native Americans. Modern and Native cultural aesthetics were embraced by the institution. The result of this artistic approach was an outpouring of creative expression that received regional and national attention. This exhibition includes early works by IAIA students and faculty and is a visual testimony to the Institute’s revolutionary approach to art education that sparked a cultural change within Native Art.


  • Ray Aguilar (San Felipe Pueblo)
  • Ralph Aragon (San Felipe Pueblo/Acoma Pueblo)
  • Sammy Begay (Navajo)
  • Larry (Littlebird) Bird (Santo Domingo Pueblo/Laguna Pueblo)
  • Earl Biss (Crow)
  • Bennet Brien (Turtle Mountain Chippewa)
  • Bennie Buffalo (Southern Cheyenne)
  • George Burdeau (Piikani)
  • T.C. Cannon (Caddo/Kiowa)
  • Art Chischilly (Navajo)
  • Joseph L. Concha (Taos Pueblo)
  • Larry Desjarlais (Chippewa)
  • Joe Dudley (Chippewa)
  • Earl Eder (Yanktonai Sioux)
  • Mary Eder (Sioux)
  • Kirby Feathers (Ponca/Sioux)
  • Anita (Luttrell) Fields (Osage/Muscogee Creek)
  • Phyllis Fife (Muscogee Creek)
  • Herman Fragua (Jemez Pueblo/Sandia Pueblo)
  • Henry (Hank) Gobin (Tulalip/Snohomish)
  • John Gritts (Cherokee)
  • Harvey Herman (Sioux)
  • Patrick Swazo Hinds (Tesuque Pueblo)
  • John Hoover (Aleut)
  • Michael Jenkins (Inuit)
  • Peter B. Jones (Onondaga)
  • Ralph Robert Kniffen (San Carlos Apache/Shoshone)
  • Delores Lee (Paiute)
  • Alice Loiselle (Chippewa)
  • Linda Lomaheftawa (Hopi/Choctaw)
  • Linda Lucero (Jemez Pueblo)
  • Edna Massey (Cherokee)
  • Don Montileaux (Oglala Lakota)
  • George Morrison (Chippewa)
  • Courtney Moyah (White Mountain Apache/Akimel O’odham/Tohono O’odham)
  • Lloyd Kiva New (Cherokee)
  • Calvin O’John (Southern Ute)
  • Peter Sampson (Confederated Tribes of Umatilla)
  • Neil Parsons (Piikani)
  • Connie (Red Star) Price (Crow)
  • Kevin Red Star (Crow)
  • Fritz Scholder (Luiseño)
  • Gerald Stone (Seminole)
  • Jennie Trujillo (Taos Pueblo)
  • Roger Tsabetsaye (Zuni Pueblo)
  • Carl Tubby (Choctaw)
  • Judy Vicenti (Jicarilla Apache)
  • Juanita Waukazo (Chippewa)
  • Alfred Young Man (Cree)
  • Mike Medicine Horse Zillioux (Akimel O’odham/Cheyenne/Pawnee)


Fri, July 28, 2017
Sun, July 7, 2019
Event Category:


IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA)
(888) 922-4242


IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA) Kieve Family Gallery
108 Cathedral Place
Santa Fe, NM 87501 United States
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(888) 922-4242