No one knows for sure how or when the Native Americans first settled to the Americas. The most popular theory is that approximately 15,000 years ago (and possibly 30,000) they migrated from Eurasia across Beringia, which was a land bridge that connected Siberia to Alaska and that once there the people then spread southward throughout the continent of North America, possibly searching for warmer climate. Beringia no longer exists; it was covered by the rising sea level approximately 10,000 years ago. So considering how long Native Americans have inhabited the land it is safe to say that the first and only Native owned art gallery showing exclusively the work of Native American artists has been a long time coming.
More Than A Trace: Native American and First Nations Contemporary Art is set to open virtually Friday, December 11 in K Art’s 2,000 square-foot gallery space, located in Buffalo, New York. The exhibit 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.
Brooke Leboeuf is the Art Director for K Art. “We couldn’t be prouder of how our inaugural exhibition has come together. 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.” Curated by Leboeuf, More Than A Trace highlights the unique perspective of all the artists, who are all either citizens of Native nations and tribes, born to Native parents, or identify as hybrid descendants. Each artist 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 goal is to be “more than a trace.”
Dave Kimelberg is the Founder and Owner of K Art. Born and raised as a member of the Seneca nation of Indians, he moved away and became a lawyer but he always maintained a strong connection. He knew that Native American artists were being woefully under represented in museums and galleries and he wanted a place where they could have a home. “It is a pleasure to be able to showcase the provocative works of 10 Native artists in our first exhibition at 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.” The idea is for this gallery to be a permanent spot for Native American artists to display their work.
Kimelberg came up with the idea for the art gallery about a year and a half ago and began overseeing its construction. Unfortunately, everything got slowed down due to the corona virus and while construction eventually got back on track the numbers of people who can attend the opening on the 11th will also be sharply curtailed. Like many however, he has learned to cope with the challenges of the virus. “We’ve received a ton of positive feedback and a lot of interest in this exhibit; frankly much more than I expected so I think if we took Covid out of the equation we would have a lot of people attending the exhibit. So we’ll do our best virtually. We’re going to have a lot of the artists there attend virtually and we’re really beefing up our online presence.”
More Than A Trace will be on display through March 12, 2021. For more information, visit thek.art.