Weathervanes are one of many American art forms that have long employed problematic stereotypes and romanticized symbolism in representations of Indigenous figures by non-Native artists. In our current exhibition American Weathervanes: The Art of the Winds, Joseph Zordan, consulting scholar and enrolled member of the Bad River Ojibwe, invites us to contend with these objects and the legacies of colonialism they represent, writing “Inevitably, such images tell us more about the people who made them than those they are said to represent.”
Join us for a critical conversation with Joseph Zordan, Joe Baker, co-founder and Executive Director of the Lenape Center, and Nez Perce art historian Rachel Allen, as they consider these objects within broader histories of American and Native American art, and discuss the continuous work of countering historical tropes with contemporary scholarship, image-making, and creative expression. Ramey Mize, art historian and Lois and the Arthur Stainman Research Assistant in The American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, will moderate.
Joseph Zordan is a Ph.D. Student in the History of Art & Architecture at Harvard University. He is an enrolled member of the Bad River Ojibwe. Zordan completed his B.A. in Anthropology at Yale University in 2019, where he was a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow. His work, focusing on artworks made of or representing wood and other natural fibers, seeks to examine the construction of the Settler/Indigenous political dichotomy in North America across time. Zordan has worked for the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Yale University Art Gallery, Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale Center for British Art, and the National Museum of the American Indian.
Joe Baker is a Native Arts leader and activist. As Executive Director of the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center, he supports a multidisciplinary community of arts practioners to create authentic stories challenging museum visitors expectations while illuminating the complexity of the human spirit. He is an enrolled member of the Delaware Tribe of Indians, Bartlesville, OK and co-founder and executive director of Lenape Center in New York, NY. His many forays into contemporary arts practice include the commissioning of an original opera, Freedom Ride, in partnership with Xavier University, New Orleans, performed on the eight-acre estate of civic activists and philanthropists, Edith and Edgar Stern, and Chicago Opera Theater. In New York, he led the commissioning of an original opera, The Purchase of Manhattan, by the composer Brent Michael Davids, performed in the sanctuary of the original church of the Dutch West India Company’s Collegiate Church. Baker worked with the librettist to re-stage, Cubanacan, the first new Cuban opera in fifty years during the 2019 Havana Biennial, promoting contemporary world art. He has served as the Lenape cultural consultant for Yale Repertory Theatre’s production of Mary Kathyrn Nagel’s play, Manahatta. At Arizona State University ‘s Institute for Design and the Arts, he served as the Institute’s first Director for Community Engagement, he led research and contemporary practices to strengthen the public and civic purposes of the arts through innovative campus-community partnerships. He has worked at the Heard Museum, Phoenix, Arizona, as the Lloyd Kiva New Curator of Fine Arts, pioneering new opportunities for emerging and underrepresented artists through innovative international exhibitions and programming. His work has recently focused on addressing issues of identity and global cultural equity. He is the recipient of the Virginia Piper Charitable Trust 2005 Fellows Award, recognizing outstanding leaders in nonprofit communities, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art’s Contemporary Catalyst Award for 2007, the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of the American Indian Design Award 2008, and ASU’s Presidential Medal for Social Embeddedness, 2009. In 2003, Baker received the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award in Painting. He is a member of IKT International association of curators of contemporary art, Luxembourg and served on the International Advisory Board, Laumeier Sculpture Park, St. Louis, MO. His projects have been covered by The New York Times, Vanity Fair, W Magazine, Sculpture Magazine, Architectural Digest, and Vogue. Baker graduated from the University of Tulsa with a BFA degree in Design and an MFA in painting and drawing, and completed postgraduate study, Harvard University, Graduate School of Education, MDP Program.
A member of the Nez Perce Tribe, Rachel Allen is a Ph.D. student and Fellow in the Mellon Curatorial Program in the Art History Department at the University of Delaware. She is interested in cross-cultural understandings of air, atmosphere, and sky in Native and American Art. Before pursuing this degree, she was an Assistant Curator at the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Salem, MA. At PEM, Allen worked on several touring exhibitions with publications, including T.C. Cannon: At the Edge of America and Nature’s Nation: American Art and Environment, and deeply contributed to the upcoming permanent installation of American and Native American art. Prior, she held positions as Assistant Professor at Michigan State University (MSU) and Assistant Preparator at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum. Allen received her MFA in Printmaking and MA in Museum Studies from MSU, and her BFA in Printmaking from the Cleveland Institute of Art. Currently, Allen is co-curating the touring retrospective for artist Joe Feddersen, a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, for the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture in Spokane, WA, slated to open in 2023.
Ramey Mize is both the Arthur and Lois Stainman Research Assistant in the American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a Ph.D. candidate in Art History at the University of Pennsylvania, where she specializes in nineteenth-century U.S., Latin American, and Native American art. Her dissertation, “Battle Grounds: Painting, War, and Witness in the Americas, 1861–1901,” illuminates artistic representations and challenges surrounding three conflicts that shaped American history: the U.S. Civil War, the Black Hills War (part of the greater Plains Wars), and the Spanish-Cuban-American-Filipino War. Her scholarship and museum work have been supported by a 2020-21 Douglass Foundation Fellowship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, the Library of Congress, and the Center for Curatorial Leadership. She received a B.A. in Art History from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 2012 and an M.A. in Art History from the Courtauld Institute of Art in London in 2013.
Space is limited; advance registration is required. Please consider making a donation when you register to support ongoing virtual programming.
Instructions for joining with a Zoom link and password will be provided by email upon registration confirmation under “Additional Information.” Closed captioning will be provided in English. For questions or to request accessibility accommodations, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.