April 27–October 16, 2024

Ancestors and Place: Indigenous North American Prints

The words ancestors and place have many connotations, but for Indigenous peoples, they are tied to all things. Place extends beyond a single location to encompass land, water, and sky. Ancestors are those not only human, but nonhuman too, that are living elements of a place. Some Native artists have used the collaborative medium of printmaking as a way of honoring these deeply connected concepts and reminding us that, though many Indigenous ancestral lands were lost to colonization, relationships to these places and the communities they nurtured endure.

Celebrating a growing area of the MFA’s collection, “Ancestors and Place: Indigenous North American Prints” features more than 30 works—most of them recent acquisitions—by Indigenous artists from the United States and Canada that explore nuanced ideas of stewardship. The works recognize place as a blessing but also something to take care of—for the past, present, and future. Mostly created through residencies at print studios such as Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts, Tamarind Institute, and High Point, these prints show artists pushing their practices into new directions, experimenting with and reconceptualizing subjects significant to them and their communities.

Both emerging and established artists are featured, including Wendy Red Star, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, James Lavadour, and Raven Chacon. Beyond making art, some, like Smith, are also activists, driven by a desire to improve cultural and political representation for Native Americans. Rooted in their specific communities, these prints demonstrate the creativity and experimentation of diverse contemporary artists.

This exhibition is organized in collaboration with artist and professor Duane Slick (Meskwaki/Ho-Chunk). It follows a previous exhibition of Indigenous North American prints, which explored resilience, on view between November 2023 and March 2024.

  • Edward and Nancy Roberts Family Gallery (Gallery LG26)


Supported by the Museum Council Artist in Residency Program Fund, the Shelly and Michael Kassen Fund, the Susan G. Kohn and Harry Kohn Jr. Fund for Contemporary Prints, and The Hilsinger Janson Fund for Native American Art.