HIDE: Skin as Material and Metaphor

March 01, 2010

The Show Must Go On

On Wednesday last week, Sonya Kelliher-Combs arrived from Alaska just as it started to snow. Thursday, the tri-state area was hit with a major snow-storm prompting early dismissals for staff at the museum. On Friday, in the town where I live in New Jersey, we awoke to 18 inches and a snow-day for local schools. But, Sonya and the installation of her work in HIDE did not stop for sleet, snow, or perilous slushy ponds on the streets of New York! Sonya has been working in the gallery every day since Thursday, meticulously hammering threaded needles into a large, site-specific installation titled, Shedding Skin.

HIDE: Skin as Material and Metaphor is the next contemporary art exhibition in New York and will be in two parts.  Solo installations by Nadia Myre and Sonya Kelliher-Combs are in part 1, which opens this week.  Part 2 will open in the fall with a solo installation by Michael Belmore, and work by five photographers: KC Adams, Terrance Houle, Rosalie Favell, Arthur Renwick and Sarah Sense.

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 Sonya hammers, Maria McWilliams (GGHC Collections Mgr) threads, and a detail of a new Walrus Family Portrait.
Followers of Kelliher-Combs are probably most familiar with her work with organic material such as raw-hide and walrus stomach, but she has also created several works with thread, such as Unraveled Secrets (2006).  Shedding Skin is composed of thousands of needles and varying skin-colored shades of thread which create a complex and meandering path around a monolithic wall constructed in the gallery.  The lines represent family and heritage as they seem to mark time, sometimes breaking abruptly while other lines will end in a heap of thread.

Sonya Kelliher-Combs will be giving a public presentation on Saturday, March 6th, at noon, in the Diker Pavilion. It will give viewers an introduction to her work and influences, both cultural and personal, and as well as insight into works created for this exhibition. It's not to be missed!

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Needles, needles, needles; a detail of Common Thread (reindeer & sheep rawhide); GGHC's sloppy snow.

Comments (2)

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I got some inspiration from your post, have an idea to create new art work, thank you very much.

I hope the exhibition went well folks.

Even though i've been practicing the art of tattooing for many years, i'm ALWAYS learning and discovering new things from fellow artists.

Keep Discovering!

February 22, 2010

Nadia Myre's Scars

Last week was a busy with one of our two HIDE artists, Nadia Myre, on site working with our staff to install her epic work known as The Scar Project. In 2005 she began hosting workshops in different communities, bringing raw canvases, needles, scissors, yarn and thread, and asking participants to write about a personal scar and use the canvas to depict it.  Years later she has amassed over 500 canvases and stories, and this will be her largest installation of the collected works yet with about 240 hanging on the wall. She worked for 3 days last week to arrange the canvases, looking at commonalities in their imagery. Even though we'll have a book with all the corresponding stories, it was fascinating to spend time with her and the work, since she knows so much about the hidden stories and people behind them. I'm thrilled that Nadia will be conducting a Scar Project workshop in the gallery on Saturday, March 6th, 1-4pm. Anyone can participate, and the canvases will be added to the installation!

Blog3 Blog1 (Far left): Nadia working on the installation; a cart loaded with the canvases.

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What an epic work for installing this !
Great work.

I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.


January 15, 2010

The Countdown Continues

Blog - Jan 2010
Less than two months to the opening of HIDE and everything is falling into place with just a few monkey wrenches to overcome.  The publication is in the late stages of design and proofing—as an author and content editor, one of the most thrilling moments is seeing the first layout.  There are still issues to work out and fine-tuning of image placement and pacing, but this is the moment when you finally really see the manuscript and images as a book.  And it looks fantastic!  It makes you really appreciate being able to work with such a top-notch Publications department within the museum, and, as an author, having the opportunity to work so closely with the editors AND designer throughout the entire process.

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December 11, 2009

Details, details

The last few months have been busy, plugging away at completing the publication manuscript and working on the script of the next exhibition I’m organizing, “HIDE: Skin as Material and Metaphor.”  There are so many details!  We are still putting the finishing touches on the exhibition catalogue, starting to design the invitation, the exhibition brochure, the website, working on the press release…you don’t fully realize how much work goes into these projects until you work on one.  I stumbled across some photos (above) from my studio visit with Sonya Kelliher-Combs in Anchorage in July 2008 when it really kicked into gear, but the inspiration for the show really happened in November 2007 when I saw her work at the 2007 Eiteljorg Fellowship for Native American Fine Art exhibition in Indianapolis.  I had seen reproductions of her work, but experiencing it in person really made things in my mind start to crackle and pop, especially connections between her work and Nadia Myre’s.  They will both have solo installations in the first part of HIDE, opening on March 6th at the GGHC.

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Hoping that this exhibition turns out to be
really awesome!

I'm super excited to see this exhibit! I'll have to make a special trip to NYC to see it..

October 13, 2009

Curator Trek


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So I’ve just returned from the University of Exeter in the UK where I was an invited speaker for the workshop, De-Placing Future Memory.  It was quite a trek, right in the middle of editing madness as I’m completing work on my next exhibition catalogue, HIDE.  It is hard to turn down an invitation to speak to a new audience about contemporary Native American art, or to participate in a stimulating dialogue about art—or in this case, the intersection of memory, place and art. Curators wear many hats at the NMAI.  Sure, we research and build the collection, organize exhibitions, and write for our various publications.  But we are often called upon to be the face of the museum, well outside of the museum.  As a curator of contemporary Native art, I always take these opportunities to introduce or promote Native art seriously, even when they aren’t that convenient.


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Hi Kathleen, I always have high respect for curators. I think they have extraordinary taste of art and beauty, it's fascinating.

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