'Cross Currents' comes to Denver art gallery

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“The wide range of expression and media found in the exhibition demonstrates the futility of attempting to confine artists of native descent to one category,” said Cecily Cullen, creative director for the Center for Visual Art. “The artists of `Cross Currents' represent the spirit of innovation by blending elements found in traditional Native American art with meaning and strategies born of 21st-century art making, adding unique voices to the visual language of today.”

CVA, Metropolitan State University's very interesting, easily accessed gallery at 965 Santa Fe Drive in Denver's Arts District, offers free admission and a series of engaging exhibits.

“Cross Currents: Native American Forces in Contemporary Art” runs Nov. 22 through Feb. 8, featuring art by Cannupahanska, Nicholas Galanin, Frank Buffalo Hyde, Merritt Johnson, Sarah Ortegon, Wendy Red Star, Sarah Sense, Marie Watt and Will Wilson.

Some of the artists will be present for an opening reception and artist's panel on Nov. 22 from 6 to 8 p.m.

These artists from across the nation have different indigenous backgrounds and do not adhere to traditional stereotypes. What they do have in common is an exploration of identity as they move between worlds, rejecting mass media's appropriation of traditional symbols.

Our illustration, “Emergency Mantle for Diplomatic Security,” is a mixed media work by Merritt Johnson, who is based in East Harlem, NY. She is “of mixed Mohawk, Blackfoot and non-indigenous descent, with a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University and an MFA from Massachusetts College of Art.”

A multidisciplinary artist working in painting, sculpture and performance, she said “through my work, I explore the connections and oppositions between (and within) bodies and place.

“My work with figures treats opulent interiors and identifiable patterns, as the material for camouflaging bodies; pointing to protection, aggression and the difficulty of cross cultural disguise ….”

She will be at the CVA on Nov. 22 for the opening reception and artists' panel, as will Cannupahanska, Buffalo Hyde, Galanin and Sense.