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Heard Museum in Arizona launches new exhibition series with Maria Hupfield
WOMAN. A Series, first in a five-year series of solo exhibitions of Indigenous women artists.

PHOENIX, AZ.- The Heard Museum announced the opening of Maria Hupfield: Nine Years Towards the Sun. This solo exhibition of Canadian/Anishinaabek artist Maria Hupfield features more than 40 works by the conceptual performance artist.

The exhibition, curated by Heard Museum Fine Arts Curator Erin Joyce, takes place throughout several exhibition spaces and range in content from performance, sculptural installation, video and document. The works on view are activated through movement, sound, memory, documentation and collaboration. The exhibition functions as a living archive, which will continually replenish itself with content throughout its five-month run.

The exhibition plays with notions of a continuum of culture, entering into conversation with thematic elements from major movements and artists within the 20th century art historical canon. Engaging materially, formally and often conceptually with the practices of artists like Robert Morris, Jimmie Durham, Joseph Beuys and Claes Oldenburg, Hupfield focuses on the act of space making within the postwar art landscape through disruption, reimagining thematic elements of their work in our present-day postwar environment. She subverts functionality of object by using materials which render their original intention or usage inert and can be seen in object such as Jiiman, 2015 where Hupfield constructed a traditional hunting canoe from gray industrial felt.

Additionally, the exhibition engages with material investigating the impact and residue of colonial occupation of Indigenous lands. Hupfield builds on the work of artists who precede her and have made space and held space in the field of contemporary art; artists such as Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Faye Heavyshield, Simone Fonti, Rebecca Belmore and the Brooklyn performance art community.

Maria Hupfield: Nine Years Towards the Sun retools the museum space as a laboratory, as a performance venue and as an archive that prioritizes and makes space for diverse bodies. The body is a major element to the work of Hupfield and is heavily represented in the exhibition; from wooden structures that suggest the form of the body to items meant to be worn on the body, it is an active reminder of the artist and of indigenous peoples in North America.

“Museums need to acknowledge and remedy the lack of space given to women artists in the global art community, and furthermore the lack of space given to women of color within that framework,” said Joyce. “The women selected for this series are incredible, dynamic artists and should be celebrated. It is not just about showing their work to make up for the lack of space given to their gender, but because their work is important and engaging with critical dialogues – it is about de-ghettoizing their work and their bodies.”

Hupfield is an Anishinaabe-kwe, and member of the Wasauksing First Nation, located in the Georgian Bay region of Perry Sound off Lake Huron. Known for her sculptural work, film installation and activation of objects through performative gestural movement, Hupfield creates work that engages time as a medium, spanning across different scales and moments. The projects reject the essentialization of Indigeneity, the commodification of Nativeness, and fetishized exoticism, replacing it with a reclamation of agency in representation, accountability, storytelling and solidarity building. Her work unsettles stereotypical and harmful notions of Native peoples in Canada and the United States and intervenes with new histories and meanings. Hupfield pays special attention to the meanings and stories of objects, how they are read, how and where they are used and what their impact is on cultural environments.

Maria Hupfield: Nine Years Towards the Sun is the first in the Heard Museum’s newly established exhibition series of monographic shows for women and women identifying artists. The series of exhibitions will redress the impact women have made on and in the field of fine art and will illuminate the rich bodies of work that women artists have created and continue to create to this day.

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