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Letter from MoCNA Director

May 28, 2020

Dear Members and Friends,

As we enter a new month of COVID-19, I want to let you know, how and what we’re doing at the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA). I’m happy to report that all of our staff are healthy, cautious, and protecting themselves from this serious virus. Beginning on March 18, our staff worked from home and were extremely productive. On May 18, some employees returned to work in the museum and a few continue to work from home. In the office, we are using all the recommended precautions. We aren’t sure yet, when the museum will reopen to the public, but rest assured when we do, all precautionary measures will be in place for the public and you will be among the first to know.

In early March we received word from the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) that MoCNA received accreditation—the highest national recognition afforded to the nation’s museums. Accreditation signifies excellence to the museum community, to governments, funders, outside agencies, and to the museum-going public. AAM Accreditation brings national recognition to MoCNA for its commitment to distinction, accountability, high professional standards and continued institutional improvement. Less than 10% of museums nationwide have received accreditation from AAM. Of the nation’s estimated 33,000 museums, only 1,070 are currently accredited.

Indigenous Futurisms Publication

Indigenous Futurisms Publication (available for purchase)

Until we open to the public, we have exhibitions and programs happening virtually. We invite you to visit:

  • The exhibition Indigenous Futurisms: Transcending Past/Present/Future will stay on view in the museum until January 3, 2021. The traveling show we planned to install in its place this summer, When I Remember I See Red from the Crocker Museum, was unfortunately cancelled due to COVID-19. Since not many of our visitors were able to see Indigenous Futurisms after it opened in February, we decided to keep this exceptional exhibition on view. The catalog was just released and is now available in the museum store. Until you can see the show in person, we invite you to visit the exhibition virtually.
  • Resistance Through Existence is co-curated by the Institute of American Indian Arts’ museum studies student Faithlyn Seawright (Chickasaw) and MoCNA’s chief curator Dr. Manuela Well-Off-Man, and features 12 graduating IAIA seniors. The exhibition tackles a wide variety of topics ranging from the revitalization of tribal regalia and mask making to healing from traumatic events that happened as a result of European colonization. Inspired by their ancestors and culture, many of the artists examine what it means to be Indigenous and part of a living culture. Resistance closes May 29, 2020, but can be viewed virtually.
  • Way of Sorrows, an installation by Charlene Teters (Spokane), addresses current issues such as forced migrations and the US-Mexico border crises, while asking questions about responsibility and identifying new myths. This exhibition closes May 29, 2020, but can be viewed virtually.

Two new exhibitions will be installed June 4. Staff may also turn these shows into virtual exhibitions, but hopefully you’ll be able to see them live and in person later this year.

  • Tom Jones: Strong Unrelenting Spirits, June 4–March 28, 2021. Strong Unrelenting Spirits features new works from Tom Jones’ series of portraits that are rooted in his Ho-Chunk identity. The works extend the boundaries of photography by incorporating beadwork directly onto the photographs.
  • Tamara Ann Burgh and Luanne Redeye: FRAMED, June 4–January 24, 2021. The exhibition FRAMED investigates issues of self-representation and identity and examines the “American Experience” from a Native perspective through mixed media works by Tamara Ann Burgh (Iñupiat-Kawerak/Swede) and Luanne Redeye (Seneca Nation of Indians/Hawk Clan). Both artists often include family and found portrait photos in their artworks, which they alter through overpainting. Presented in seemingly nostalgic, decorative frames, which evoke American folk art and Victorian-era Iroquois beadwork, these works invite viewers to contemplate alternate histories, intergenerational trauma and authenticity.

Storytelling Through Comics (S1 W1): Jeffrey Veregge

Storytelling Through Comics (S1 W1): Jeffrey Veregge

In addition to our exhibitions, we welcome you to engage with contemporary Native art through our array of online virtual educational resources. Through artmaking, curriculum guides, and other fun activities, visitors of all ages can learn more about various works of art in MoCNA’s exhibitions and collections. The following resources can be found in MoCNA’s Education web page.

  • The MoCNA Education Program has created a series of educational workbooks for each of the artists featured in the Indigenous Futurism exhibition. These workbooks explore topics related to the artwork and interests of each artist. The first workbook, “Storytelling Through Comics,” is inspired by the work of Jeffrey Veregge (Port Gamble S’Klallam). Learn how to create your own comic book through storytelling and learn about the Indigenous world of superheroes.
  • Enjoy coloring pages depicting a work of art from MoCNA’s collection or exhibitions created by IAIA alum, Daniel McCoy Jr. (Muscogee Creek/Citizen Band Potawatomi). Simply download, print, and color away. Share your creations with us on Instagram by tagging @iaiamocna. We can’t wait to see your creations! Download and view 2020_iaia_mocna_daniel_mccoy_jr_coloring_pages (compressed file with all 10 coloring pages, 20.5 MB).

When we have a date to re-open safely, I will send another letter with details regarding our plan to protect our members and visitors from COVID-19. We hope everyone is staying safe, and we look forward to seeing you in-person when we can all meet again.


Patsy Phillips (Cherokee)
MoCNA Director