• Dyani White Hawk (Sičáŋǧu Lakota, born 1976)
    Čaŋte Skúya (Sweetheart), 2012, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 30 inches

    Collection of Patrick and Tracey Gallagher, Bethesda, Maryland
    © Dyani White Hawk, Courtesy of the artist and Bockley Gallery

    Dyani White Hawk (Sičáŋǧu Lakota, born 1976)
    Čaŋte Skúya (Sweetheart), 2012, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 30 inches

    Collection of Patrick and Tracey Gallagher, Bethesda, Maryland
    © Dyani White Hawk, Courtesy of the artist and Bockley Gallery

  • Installation view, Dyani White Hawk: Speaking to Relatives,
    February 18–May 16, 2021, Charlotte Crosby Kemper Gallery, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art.
    Photo: E. G. Schempf, 2021.

    Installation view, Dyani White Hawk: Speaking to Relatives,
    February 18–May 16, 2021, Charlotte Crosby Kemper Gallery, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art.
    Photo: E. G. Schempf, 2021.

Dyani White Hawk: Speaking to Relatives

Thursday, February 18, 2021 to Sunday, May 16, 2021
Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

Speaking to Relatives is a major solo exhibition of mixed-media works by Minneapolis-based artist Dyani White Hawk (Sičáŋǧu Lakota, born 1976). This ten-year survey of painting, sculpture, photography, video, and installation presents White Hawk’s unique merging of the visual language of abstraction with Lakota art forms. Her work expresses a shared formal and conceptual practice and acknowledges the significance of Indigenous art as American art.

White Hawk’s artistic practice is distinguished by a hybrid aesthetic highlighting cross-cultural experiences. She uses techniques that abstract artists began using in the 1950s that foregrounded the expression of mark making and focused on form rather than representational imagery as a way to communicate concepts. White Hawk offers a new historical perspective, drawing significant attention to these formal aspects while adding materials and craft derived from Native visual history, an underrepresented focus in American abstraction. The Moccasin series, some of the earliest works in the exhibition, comprises of paintings and works on paper created with blocks of color, thick striping, and arched shapes that evoke themes of balance and companionship. White Hawk abstracts elements of Native attire using stripes and dots, which draw compelling parallels between the abstract works of Plains Indian art and American Modernist painters such as Sean Scully (American, born 1945). In White Hawk's Quiet Strength series, begun in 2016, she uses paint to mimic the colors, rounded form, and shapes of quillwork made by Native women. In their subtle and soft tones, and transcribed in her unique abstract style, these works embody and support the legacy of abstraction found throughout generations of Native Lakota craft and visual imagery. The Carry works from 2019 and 2020 are beaded vessel sculptures made of colorful dyed feathers, glass beads, brass sequins, and cascading synthetic sinew responding directly to the perceived notions of Native art forms as inherently utilitarian.

White Hawk’s newest bodies of work include photographic series I Am Your Relative (2020) and video work Listen (2020). Both focus on the idea of Native visibility. Six photographs of Native women create a collective sentence suggesting a central theme in White Hawk’s work—that we are all connected. Listen depicts eight Native women sharing prayers or personal stories related to language on their Native land and in their Native languages: Cocopah, Dakota, Diné, Hocąk, Kwatsáan, Ojibwe, Seneca, and Tiwa. This video work highlights the fact that Indigenous languages spoken in America are not easily recognizable due to a lack of representation of Native people, language, and art in American popular culture.

Through innovations in abstraction and transcription of historical imagery, this range of White Hawk’s work speaks to themes of identity and visibility, placing White Hawk at the forefront of dialogue on Native art as American art. She works across different cultures, histories, and visual traditions to show the significance of a shared history between Native and non-Native groups. Using this approach, White Hawk encourages conversations that challenge the lack of representation of Native people, arts, and voices in art movements and beyond.

Dyani White Hawk: Speaking to Relatives is organized by Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri, and curated by Jade Powers, assistant curator. A full-color catalogue accompanies the exhibition.   

This exhibition was generously supported by the R. Crosby Kemper Jr. Exhibition Fund and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Additional financial assistance is provided by generous donors and members, especially:
William T. Kemper Charitable Trust, UMB Bank, n.a., Trustee; Bebe & Crosby Kemper Foundation, UMB Bank, n.a., Trustee; R.C. Kemper Jr Charitable Trust and Foundation, UMB Bank, n.a., Trustee; The R. Crosby Kemper Jr. Exhibition Fund; The Sullivan Family Foundation, Jo Ann and William Sullivan; The Family of Mary Beth Smith Docent Program; Jack and Karen Holland Visiting Artist Fund; Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation; Bebe and Graham Hunt; Catherine Mead; Bradley and Linda Nicholson Foundation; Missouri Arts Council, a state agency; Murphy-Hoffman Company; Jane Voorhees; Thomas and Sally Wood Family Foundation; Stanley J. Bushman and Ann Canfield; Charles M. Helzberg and Sandra Baer; Francis Family Foundation; Spencer Fane LLP; American Century Investments; Paul and Linda DeBruce; JE Dunn Construction Company; Kansas City University; Linda Lighton and Lynn Adkins; Lockton Companies; Virginia and James Moffett; Miller Nichols Charitable Foundation; The Sosland Foundation; Courtney S. Turner Charitable Trust, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee; UMB Financial Corporation; Oppenstein Brothers Foundation, Commerce Bank, Trustee; RLS Illumination Fund.

Sustaining Sponsors
Barbara and Peter Gattermeir

 

Kemper Museum sponsored this program in partnership with the Missouri Humanities Council and with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

 

TOUR ONLINE

The Speaking to Relatives online tour is now available in Spanish or English.

EXHIBITION CATALOGUE

Foreward by Sean O'Harrow, introduction by Jade Powers, essays by Kathleen Ash-Milby, and Carmen Hermo.

Click here for more information.

EXHIBITION PROGRAMS

Programming is generously supported by the Jack and Karen Holland Visiting Artist Program​.​

MEMBER PREVIEW 
Dyani White Hawk: Speaking to Relatives 

Thursday, February 18, 6 p.m.–9 p.m.
FREE | All Ages | Registration required

Kemper Museum members are invited for a limited-capacity preview of Dyani White Hawk: Speaking to Relatives many areas of the Museum have created distinct programs to enliven the themes of the exhibition. The evening will feature self-guided activities and take-home art kits for youth and families, dishes inspired by White Hawk’s work created by Café Sebastienne’s Chef Rick Mullins, and the catalogue along with other items related to the exhibition, available in the Museum Shop. Please note that all Kemper Museum safety precautions including capacity limits and mask requirements will apply.

Dyani White Hawk: Speaking to Relatives Opening Week
February 19–25, Museum Hours
FREE | All Ages | Registration required

To mark the opening of “Dyani White Hawk: Speaking to Relatives” many areas of the Museum have created distinct programs to enliven the themes of the exhibition. The exhibition kicks off with a preview for Kemper Museum members the evening of Thursday, Feb. 18 and will open to the public on Friday, Feb. 19. Opening week will feature in-gallery activations and performances, self-guided activities and take-home art kits for youth and families, dishes inspired by White Hawk’s work created by Café Sebastienne’s Chef Rick Mullins, and the catalogue along with other items related to the exhibition, available in the Museum Shop. The week will culminate with an artist talk by White Hawk on Thursday, February 25 that will be livestreamed on Zoom in addition to being projected at the Museum. Please note that all Kemper Museum safety precautions including capacity limits and mask requirements will apply.

 

Virtual Artist Talk with Dyani White Hawk - WATCH ONLINE
Thursday, Mar. 4, 6 p.m. CST
FREE | All Ages | Registration required

Artist Dyani White Hawk presents on works in Speaking to Relatives and major themes throughout her career. 

 

Virtual Mystery Art Challenge: Contemporary Patterns | February 27

Dyani White Hawk’s artwork features patterns from Lakoka art forms and modern abstract art, creating a hybrid, cross-cultural experience between the abstract works of Plains Indian art and American Modernist painters. Joiri Minaya’s installation titled Divergences features patterns such as a repeated abstracted landscape with a vista view of the overlook of the historic Quindaro Townsite and repeated tropical imagery that draws attention to the themes of nature, femininity, idealized bodies, and the stereotypes and exoticization of the Caribbean female body. 

This mystery art challenge is all about pattern! Register by February 17 to receive your free mystery package by mail filled with unknown art materials (we'll follow up by email to confirm your address; please note: at this time, we can only mail packages to addresses in the United States). Then, after learning about how the contemporary artists Dyani White Hawk and Joiri Minaya use patterns in their artwork, use only the materials in the mystery art package to create your own piece of patterned art!

 

Dyani White Hawk: Speaking to Relatives Virtual Talk and Tours

A casual talk and tour of the exhibition with curators, educators, artists, designers, and others offering insight into their work and its connection to the exhibition. Program topics vary. Additional talks to be announced.

Curator-Led with Jade Powers – WATCH ONLINE
Wednesday, March 3, 2–3 p.m. | Virtual
FREE | All Ages | Registration required

Jade Powers, assistant curator, reviews planning Dyani White Hawk: Speaking to Relatives. 

Artist Eye with Norman Akers – WATCH ONLINE
Wednesday, March 31, 2–3 p.m. | Virtual
FREE | All Ages | Registration required

Associate Professor in the Department of Visual Art at the University of Kansas and artist Norman Akers connects his painting and printmaking practice with works presented in Dyani White Hawk: Speaking to Relatives. 

Perspectives with Gaylene Crouser – WATCH ONLINE
Wednesday, April 7, 2–3 p.m. | Virtual
FREE | All Ages | Registration required

Executive Director of the Kansas City Indian Center, Gaylene Crouser discusses Native culture and symbolism found in Speaking to Relatives. 

 

Kemper Museum Trivia: American History
Thursday, March 18, 6–8:30 p.m. | Virtual
FREE | All Ages | Registration required

This lively trivia night will focus on American history in conjunction with themes present in the Speaking to Relatives exhibition. A complimentary meal will be provided to each participant, courtesy of Cafe Sebastienne. Space is limited.

 

Virtual Spring Camp Kemper
Tuesday, Mar. 30–Thursday, Apr. 1, 10 a.m.–noon daily | Virtual
FREE | Ages 6–12 | Registration required
Kemper Museum is hosting a virtual three-day art camp with projects inspired by artist Dyani White Hawk. Campers will engage in creative activities that explore White Hawk’s art processes and themes along with the significance of Native art as American Art. All art materials will be mailed to participants at no cost, and camp sessions will take place on Zoom. Space is limited. 

 

Tour Across the States: Native Artists - WATCH ONLINE
Thursday, April 29, 6 p.m. | Virtual
FREE | All Ages | Registration required

Join us for a virtual tour of Native artists in Haskell Indian Nations University’s permanent collection with artist and instructor David Titterington and Dr. Daniel Wildcat, professor of Indigenous Studies.

 

IG Live Talk and Create: Dyani White Hawk
Wednesday, April 21, 12–1 p.m. | Virtual
FREE | All Ages | Registration required

Assistant curator Jade Powers leads a tour of the Dyani White Hawk: Speaking to Relatives exhibition followed by an art-making demonstration related to the exhibition by Jessica Thompson-Lee, Creative Engagement Manager. Follow @kempermuseum for further Instagram updates and prompts to join this program online.

 

Workshop: Geometry
Thursday, May 6, 6–8:30 p.m. | Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art
FREE | Reservations Required

As safety permits, Lawrence, KS-based artist, Mona Cliff will lead a limited-capacity artist workshop in conjunction with Speaking to Relatives. The evening will feature gallery games, accompanied by conversation about the exhibition and a creative signature cocktail by Café Sebastienne, inspired by abstract works of art. The event will comply with Kemper Museum’s Missouri ArtSafe certified safety requirements including limited registration numbers and a mask requirement.

 

A Conversation with Dyani White Hawk & Carmen Hermo – WATCH ONLINE
Thursday, May 13, 6 p.m. | Virtual
FREE | All Ages | Registration required

Join Artist Dyani White Hawk and Curator Carmen Hermo for a virtual discussion about the exhibition, Dyani White Hawk: Speaking to Relatives

Dyani White Hawk is a Minneapolis-based artist who works across cultures in a variety of media to expand notions of abstraction within art history and bring attention to Native contemporary culture. 

Carmen Hermo is the associate curator for Elizabeth A. Sackler Center For Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum. Her essay in the exhibition's catalogue, Dyani White Hawk: Accumulating Collective Power, explores feminism and collective care in White Hawk’s work. Registration is required.