The traveling exhibition, managed by CFile Foundation, Dark Light: The Ceramics of Christine Nofchissey McHorse has finally reached the artist’s hometown after a three-year tour that took it to Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City; The Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Norman OK; Center for Contemporary Craft, Houston; and The Navajo Nation Museum, Window Rock. The stunning installation will be on view at the Museum of the Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe, NM until July 21, 2015. The museum is open Monday and Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and on Sunday from noon until 5 p.m. It is closed on Tuesdays.
In 2016 CFile will reassemble the show and it will travel first to the Arizona State Museum, University of Arizona, Tucson AZ, and then in 2017 will spend a full year at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC.
Dark Light is the first traveling exhibition of this groundbreaking Navajo (Diné) artist. McHorse, a first-generation potter, is considered among the most innovative artists working today creating vessel-based art that is undecorated and abstract, with formal qualities indebted more to modern sculpture than to Southwestern culture.
With the urge to transgress and blur the boundaries between pottery and sculpture, in 1996 McHorse decided to leave utility and tradition behind and pursue shapes that had been haunting her for some time. A year later she made a pot that marked a breakthrough in her practice; instead of leaving it the natural tan color of the clay she placed it in a garbage can filled with burning leaves and closed the lid.
By reducing the oxygen, the pot’s surface turned black. The flecks of mica from her locally sourced clay glittered dramatically against the black ground, creating an advancing and receding surface of dark and light. Her work is a revelation form-wise and represents a new and compelling direction in Native American ceramics. This survey exhibition includes works from McHorse’s Dark Light series from 1997 to the present.
Garth Clark of CFile and Mark Del Vecchio curated the exhibition. They are the authors of an accompanying book, a fully illustrated 100-page monographic catalogue from Fresco with photographs by Addison Doty. This book was awarded the bronze metal for fine art books by the Independent Publishers Association in the Fine Art category-competing against more than two thousand other publications.
McHorse was born in 1948 in Morenci, Arizona and lives and works in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She received her formal education at the Institute of American Indian Arts, where she studied between 1963 and 1968. McHorse has received numerous awards from the SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market, and the Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial, Gallup, as well as the Museum of Northern Arizona. Her work is included in the public collections of the Denver Museum of Natural History; Museum of New Mexico; Smithsonian Museum of American Art; Navajo Nation Museum; and the Rockwell Museum of Western Art. A first generation Navajo ceramic artist, she married Joel McHorse, a Taos Pueblo Indian, and learned to make pots through his grandmother, Lena Archuleta. Archuleta taught her to work with micaceous clay, a rare, but naturally occurring clay high in mica content found in the Taos area. McHorse is one of the most admired and successful Native potters, working with traditional techniques but making the kind of reductive, sculptural pots that one would have expected Brancusi to make, were he alive today. McHorse has the unique distinction of winning Best in Show for both pottery and sculpture at the annual SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market.
The powerful, dramatic images of the installation are the work of Jason Ordaz.
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