Why We Dance

American Indian Art in Motion
May 29, 2016–Aug 14, 2016
Dan Namingha, Hopi Eagle Dancer, 1995. Acrylic paint on canvas.

Dan Namingha (Tewa/Hopi, born 1950), Hopi Eagle Dancer, 1995. Acrylic paint on canvas. 47 ¾ x 47 ¾ in. Denver Art Museum: Gift of Virginia Vogel Mattern, 2003.1296. © Dan Namingha.

Allan Houser, Apache Crown Dance, 1952. Casein paint on paper.

Allan Houser (Chiricahua Apache, 1914–1994), Apache Crown Dance, 1952. Casein paint on paper. Gift of Margaret Davis and Cornelia and Josephine Evans, 1953.420. © Estate of Allan Houser.

Isabel John (Navajo, 1933–2004), Rug, 1981. Wool and dye. The Gloria F. Ross Collection of Contemporary Weaving of the Denver Art Museum, 1982.8. © Estate of Isabel John.

Hopi artist, Eagle Social Dancer (Kwaahu), about 1920. Wood, paint, cloth, and wire.

Hopi artist, Eagle Social Dancer (Kwaahu), about 1920. Wood, paint, cloth, and wire. Anonymous gift in honor of Julia Johnson, 1948.343

Sioux artist, Breastplate, about 1935. Porcupine quill, hide, tin cone, and feathers.

Sioux artist, Breastplate, about 1935. Porcupine quill, hide, tin cone, and feathers. The L. D. and Ruth Bax Collection, 1985.114

Osage artist, Fan, 1940. Feathers, glass beads, leather, fur, and cord.

Osage artist, Fan, 1940. Feathers, glass beads, leather, fur, and cord. Native Arts acquisition fund, 1949.86

Gallery view of Why We Dance, including large-scale projections of footage from Friendship Powwow and American Indian Cultural Celebrations held annually at the DAM.

Gallery view of Why We Dance, including large-scale projections of footage from Friendship Powwow and American Indian Cultural Celebrations held annually at the DAM.

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Closed: May 29, 2016–Aug 14, 2016
Hamilton Building - Level 1

This multisensory exhibition presents the motives behind Native American dance and highlights the museum’s annual Friendship Powwow and American Indian Cultural Celebration. It features about 86 works, including 78 drawn from the DAM’s American Indian art collection.

In addition to historic works, the exhibition showcases contemporary dance regalia from the regional Native American community. Paintings and drawings illustrate specific Native dances such as animal dances, healing dances, and rites of passage primarily found in the Plains region and the American Southwest. Included in the exhibition are large-scale, dance-themed paintings from the 1939 San Francisco World’s Fair by Charles Loloma, Jose Duran, and Ignacio Moquino.

Visitors also are invited into a dancing circle through Mohawk artist Alan Michelson's RoundDance video art installation, allowing them to join in on a form of dance used as social protest over tribal sovereignty issues.

Why We Dance is curated by Nancy Blomberg, chief curator and curator of Native arts at the DAM, as well as John Lukavic, associate curator of Native arts, and guest curator Russ Tallchief.

Local exhibition support is provided by the Osage Nation Foundation.

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