Campus News

Exhibition celebrates 50 years of Indigenous studies at UB

Patrons in the UB Anderson Gallery stand near Shelley Niro’s painting "Indian Brains." Photo: Meredith Forrest Kulwicki


Published July 25, 2022

“This exhibition is particularly exciting because you have Haudenosaunee voices steering the entire artistic conversation. ”
Margaret Jacobs, curatorial consultant
O’nigöëi:yo:h Thinking In Indian

An exhibition celebrating 50 years of Indigenous studies at UB that showcases the work of 48 artists from the Hodinöhsö:ni’ Confederacy is now on view in the UB Art Galleries.

“O’nigöëi:yo:h Thinking In Indian” encompasses various media and platforms, including digital data, black ash, moose hair, glass beads, paint and more.

The work of the artists from the Hodinöhsö:ni’ Confederacy — Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora — is on display in the UB Art Gallery in the Center for the Arts and the UB Anderson Gallery through Oct. 2.

The title of the exhibition is inspired by John Mohawk “Sotsisowah” (Seneca), one of the founders of Native American studies at UB. Jolene Rickard, a member of the Tuscarora nation, a UB alumnus and professor of art at Cornell, was part of the committee that organized and selected the artworks. She says the works were specifically chosen with Mohawk in mind.

“Each piece was selected because they’re a reflection of John and are informed by the cultural principles of the Hodinöhsö:ni’,” Rickard said. “I think it’s a demonstration of the impact that John and the generation of thinkers that are here at UB, and that work continues through Theresa McCarthy and the Indigenous Studies department.”

Photos: Meredith Forrest Kulwicki

“O’nigöëi:yo:h Thinking In Indian” presents a multigenerational perspective, centering the artists’ voices around questions of land and gender, visual language and action, and imagining Hodinöhsö:ni’ futures. Each artwork is a demonstration of intergenerational knowledge, with a 21st-century perspective

“It’s a privilege to be here,” Jay Carrier (Onondaga/Tuscarora) said at the exhibition’s opening on July 14. “So many of the artists here are the crème de la crème of the six nations.”

"Wolf Protects the Stars," by artist Jay Carrier (Onondaga/Tuscarora) is on display at the UB Anderson Gallery as part of the "O’nigöëi:yo:h Thinking In Indian" exhibit. The exhibit runs until Oct. 2. Photo: Courtesy of the artist and Dome Art Advisory

Carrier’s painting “Wolf Protects the Stars” is on display in the UB Anderson Gallery. The mixed-media painting depicts a wolf standing guard in front a night sky full of stars, with each star representing a child that has been lost. A faint outline of a mother cradling a baby can be seen among the stars.

“I enjoy advocating for artists who are pushing the boundaries of their chosen medium and/or those who are creating important work but may be emerging or lesser known in their field,” said curatorial consultant Margaret Jacobs. “This exhibition is particularly exciting because you have Haudenosaunee voices steering the entire artistic conversation.”

Featured artists are Kat Brown Akootchook, Erin Lee Antonak, Tracey Anthony, Jay Carrier, Hannah Claus, Dawn Dark Mountain, Patricia Deadman, Elizabeth Doxtater, Katsitsionni Fox, Eric Gansworth, Ronni-Leigh Goeman, Hayden Hayes, Carla Hemlock, Barbara-Helen Hill, Carrie Hill, Dan Hill, Richard W. Hill, Sr., Stanley Hill, Sr., Karen Ann Hoffman, Melanie Hope, Alex Jacobs, Arnold Jacobs, Samantha Jacobs, G. Peter Jemison, Grant Jonathan, Peter Jones, Brandon Lazore, Ange Loft, Linley Logan, Faye Lone, George Longfish, Oren Lyons, Laticia McNaughton, Alan Michelson, Ann Mitchell, Shelley Niro, Roger Cook Parish, Erwin Printup, Jr., Erwin Printup, Sr., Luanne Redeye, Jolene Rickard, Natasha Smoke Santiago, Diane Schenandoah, Santee Smith, Samuel Thomas, Brooke Vandewalker, Marie Watt and Waylon Wilson.

Theresa McCarthy, a member of the Onondaga nation, Beaver clan citizen of Six Nations of the Grand River Territory in Ontario, and associate professor and interim chair of the Department of Indigenous Studies, said this exhibition of contemporary Haudenosaunee art offers “an exhilarating and provocative way” to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Native American studies at UB, and the launch of the new Indigenous studies department.

“The legendary program here represented a major turn in the field of Haudenosaunee studies by refusing the authority of the anthropologists, defying those archaic narratives, and asserting our right to speak for ourselves in more meaningful ways about our experiences, knowledge, values and aspirations,” said McCarthy, who also serves as associate dean for inclusive excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences.

McCarthy said she plans to continue the focus on Indigenous sovereignty, knowledge, and intellectual traditions as the new department evolves.  

Support for the exhibition is provided in part by the Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, with additional support provided by the UB Department of Indigenous Studies.