Artrain (Ann Arbor, MI)

Influences of Modern Culture

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Daybreak by Joe Maktima

Daybreak by Joe Maktima, a member of the Hopi/Laguna Pueblo tribe, is one of the artworks featured in Artrain's traveling exhibition Native Views: Influences of Modern Culture. Image courtesy of Artrain.

NEA: Why did Artrain choose Native Views for its American Masterpieces project?

DEBRA POLICH: There's a tendency in the United States to think of the outstanding artists of renown that are household names -- the Warhols, the Rauschenbergs. ...We have found from our research that there was a tendency not to necessarily look at the Native American culture and artists, particularly the contemporary artists, with that same level of recognition. But nonetheless, their work is pretty phenomenal.

NEA: How important was NEA funding to this project?

POLICH: It helped us to take Native Views to Alaska. This was our first time ever in Alaska; we took the show to six different communities. There are no Alaska Native artworks on board in the show, so to be sure to acknowledge and connect with the Alaska Native artists we had a resident artist that traveled with us to all six communities. We invited artists from the communities to take part as well.

NEA: How many people will benefit from this tour?

POLICH: For the entire tour [which is four years] we will probably hit 100 communities and 125,000 people directly. A whole host of those individuals, about 40 percent, are school children. We also have a lot of artists volunteering their time in our artist gallery, so they have an opportunity to showcase their work in the community they're visiting and that turns into sales for them and exposure.