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Interview by Gloria Bell.
I think the artists in Changing Hands 3 are the most independent of the market system. These artists are the most educated, the most sophisticated of all 3 regions. I talk about this in my essay (see the pdf to read it). These artists aren’t solely relying on the market. One of the challenges for Native art in general is to be in the same playing field as all other American artists, why they are not is a big question. This certainly came up in the panel discussion. I don’t have an answer for this, I think its coming but not there yet.
With the other exhibitions, it was challenging finding the work, but it wasn’t as hard as for the third show. For the first exhibitions there was no internet, the artists didn’t all have telephones. Changing Hands 2 was easier. The other challenge for me was re-defining the show.
The origin of the title refers to the passing on of traditional techniques, materials and stories from one generation to the next, from family to family, from Native hands to non-Native hands, as they would in an Indian market or fair.
I hope that people will come and see Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 3 and get the word out. I think what we’ve done is very different. There have been a number of exhibitions that have happened in the last few months. Changing Hands series has sparked quite a lot. The exhibition No Reservations, I had a laugh at, and I think the approach we’ve taken is very different from it. We don’t show any historic work, we don’t refer to the artists except where they were born and currently live, we include an artist statement with each work, we approach this as a show about contemporary art. I think that is different with what shows have done in the past. Good or bad, I want people to look at this work and have an open mind about it.
Ellen Taubman is the guest curator for the exhibition Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 3: Contemporary Native North American Art from the Northeast and Southeast, at the Museum of Arts and Design, New York City, on view until October 21, 2012. She has over 35 years of experience working in the field of Native arts, with expertise in art markets and curatorial projects. Changing Hands is a three-part project that spans one decade from 2002-2012.
Catalog and images provided courtesy of Ellen Taubman and the Museum of Arts and Design.