The leadership team at K Art, 808 Main St., Buffalo, the first and only Native-owned art gallery of its kind in the United States to solely showcase the artwork of national-level Native contemporary artists, has announced the details for its inaugural exhibition: More Than A Trace: Native American and First Nations Contemporary Art. Set to open Friday, December 11 in K Art’s 2,000 square-foot gallery space, More Than A Trace will be a survey of the work exploring the experience of being Native in a contemporary world by nationally-recognized Native artists Gina Adams, Jay Carrier, Lewis DeSoto, Jeffrey Gibson, Luzene Hill, G. Peter Jemison, Brad Kahlhamer, Meryl McMaster, Duane Slick and Marie Watt.
“We couldn’t be prouder of how our inaugural exhibition has come together,” said Brooke Leboeuf, Art Director of K Art. “With few platforms available on a national level for Native artists to be part of the mainstream art landscape, K Art is honored to recognize artists and open conversation on important discussions about Native representation, marginalization, stereotypes, history and culture. All those who visit K Art and More Than A Trace will enjoy vibrant and diverse artistry in many forms and we aim to encourage Americans to understand that Native peoples and cultures are a present, thriving and integral part of society’s fabric, beyond the prevalent misrepresentation of Native imagery in American culture.”
Curated by Leboeuf, More Than A Trace highlights the unique perspective of all the participating artists, who are all either citizens of Native nations and tribes, born to Native parents, or identify as hybrid descendants. From different geographies, ancestral backgrounds and life experiences, they incorporate into their art making practice, in deeply personal ways, the experience of being Native in a contemporary world. While the results are strikingly different, each artist ultimately plays and grapples with the idea of connectedness. This concept manifests itself in unique ways and in distinct visual languages: a profoundly human drive that is not exclusive to one person or one culture, but to humanity as a whole. The desire to be more than a trace.
Among the works featured in More Than A Trace, Gibson melds seemingly disparate cultures and influences, Native and non-Native alike, as he plays with popular culture, various subcultures, fashion, politics and LGBTQ identity, creating a certain fluidity and cohesion between them, as if he has created an entirely new visual language, steeped in both Native symbolism and modernist abstraction. McMaster’s use of props, costumes and theatrical design work, in both performance and photography, transport the viewer through an otherworldly journey of self-discovery. The textile works of Adams and Watt, the former in quilts and the latter in the sewing of wool blankets, take a traditional practice and use it to explore ideas of memory, ancestral stories and connectedness, extending from person to person and finally to the universe as a whole. The work of Slick, replete with the symbolism of the Coyote, likewise highlights the importance and universality of storytelling. Hill connects past to present through her exploration of trauma and loss. Landscape and ecology play an important role in the exhibited works of deSoto, Kahlhamer, Carrier and Jemison.
“It is a pleasure to be able to showcase the provocative works of 10 Native artists in our first exhibition at K Art,” said Dave Kimelberg, Founder and Owner of K Art. “We are grateful to each of the participating artists for sharing their stories, heritage and perspective with us and the greater art community. Their work confirms what we at K Art know to be true: that Native people and cultures should not be relegated to the hermetically sealed museum or an isolated chapter in history books; they are an integral part of contemporary society.”
More Than A Trace will be on display through March 12, 2021. K Art will be a pioneer in the art community to enable important discussions on Native American underrepresentation, marginalization, stereotypes, history and contemporary culture. An integral element of the K Haus, a design, art and tech-centric space, K Art will reside in the middle of Buffalo’s Allentown historic district. The neighborhood is remarkable for its lively community of artists, lifestyle venues, parks and proximity to national art galleries, and its inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.
Beginning Saturday, December 12, K Art will be open by appointment only. To reserve an appointment or for more information on K Art and More Than A Trace, visit thek.art.