Exhibition featuring contemporary Southeastern American Indian art on display at UNCP museum

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Return From Exile at MSAI

The Museum of the Southeast American Indian at UNC Pembroke will host the national fine art exhibition “Return from Exile.”

Curated by artists Tony A. Tiger (Shawnee/Creek/Seminole), Bobby C. Martin (Creek), and Jace Weaver (Cherokee) will be on display through May 11.

An opening reception will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, January 30. The museum is located inside historic Old Main.

The exhibit features 33 Native artists with over 40 works ranging in media from paintings to sculpture to multi-media installations.

Centered on the historic events of Indian Removal Act and the legacy of the legislation, the exhibit is organized around three core curatorial themes: Removal, Return, and Resilience.

The curators position the following questions to foster a conversation around these curatorial themes:

· For Southeastern American Indian peoples, has that memory and connection to place of origin, really disappeared?

· How do contemporary Southeastern Native peoples see themselves in light of the historic events of Removal and displacement?

· What impacts did Indian Removal have on Native communities that remained?

· How did evading Indian Removal Shape the lives and communities who remained for future generations?

These are the questions this exhibition seeks to address, through responses and reactions to the artistic allegory presented by a premier group of contemporary Southeastern Native American artists 

The concept of place is important to this exhibit and curators, Martin, Tiger, and Weaver strategically toured the exhibit throughout museums in the Southeast.

The exhibit has been shown in Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Arkansas, Florida, Tennessee and lastly in North Carolina – each state representing regions of origins and homelands for tribes that were a part of Indian Removal. The Museum of the Southeast American Indian is the concluding venue for the exhibit. 

Nancy Fields, director of the Museum of the Southeast American Indian, explains how this exhibit transcends all audiences and connects with individuals in powerful and meaningful ways 

“The esthetics of this exhibit are alluring and very compelling,” she said. “Although this exhibit synthesizes history and art into one exhibit, it is the visual narrative that unifies the two.

“It is unique in how the art facilitates a historical conversation about an experience that exceeds American Indians, but rather looks at an epic in American history that relates to us all.

“We are delighted to bring this exhibit to the Museum of the Southeast American Indian at UNC Pembroke, a historically American Indian College to present this exhibit in what is traditional homelands for many of the artists who are represented in the show. There is power in that opportunity and people feel that in important ways.

“We invite everyone to see this beautiful exhibit and learn more about an important part of American history.”