Native Art Department International
Native Art Department International (NADI) is a Toronto-based collaborative project of wife-and-husband pair of artists Maria Hupfield (b. 1975) and Jason Lujan (b. 1971). Together they curate group exhibitions in which they sometimes show and for which they often make work together. They see this as a way to counter the pigeonholing of contemporary art by Native Americans and people of First Nations descent. Artforum critic Gabrielle Moser has also written about the duo's "commitment to artistic camaraderie, decolonial politics, and non-competition."
Background and history
Hupfield is Ojibwe and belongs to the Wasauksing First Nation, and Lujan is Mestizo. Hupfield has said "It’s important for artists to generate and frame our own content so we’re not always looking at institutions to co-opt and define it outside of our awareness." Lujan told the Tacoma Art Museum for its website, "There is a lot of value to Native artists representing anything they want today, not just their own cultures. The field is wide open. I think artists have a lot of good things to say about anything and everything, and there is plenty of room for all of that."
In 2015, the couple established a blog that documents their activities as Native Art Department International and publishes interviews with artists and scholars and articles on subjects of interest such as South African magazine Chimurenga and early Japanese American photographer Frank Matsura. They have screened their work and curated those of others at Artists Space and at the Kitchen in New York.
For their 2020 solo exhibition at Mercer Union in Toronto, the website explains, "Their collaboration employs administrative language in order to frame their area of expertise and responsibility. This strategy provides NADI with greater freedom to contextualize their work on their own terms. As a result, they short-circuit potential expectations and stereotypes built into the name of the collective itself, communicating in terms that are broader than and strengthened by the work of its members and allies."
Exhibitions by Native Art Department International include
- "free play" at Trestle Projects, Brooklyn
- "Chez BRKLYN" in Galerie Se Konst in Falun, Sweden in 2016 and
- "In Dialogue" at University of Toronto Art Centre in 2017, the latter two with other artists including Duane Linklater
Curatorial projects in which their own work isn't a part include
- "First Things Don't Come First," at the Fabulous Festival of Fringe Film, Durham, Ontario, Canada in 2017
- "Without Us There Is No You," a screening of six video works by indigenous artists at Artists Space to mark Art in America's inaugural indigenous contemporary art issue
- "Oh So You've Had an Indian Friend?," an evening in 2018 celebrating the life and work of Diane Burns, with artist Sky Hopinka and representatives from the organizations Amerinda, the St. Mark's Poetry Project, and the Endangered Language Institute at Downtown Arts
Inclusion in other group shows, residencies, and talks
- "There Is No Then and Now; Only Is and Is Not," video projection featuring artist Dennis Redmoon Darkeem (Yamassee Yat’siminoli) in the 2018 group exhibition "The Racial Imaginary Institute: On Whiteness" at the Kitchen, curated by the organization's curatorial team, Claudia Rankine, and eight others
- Fourth Arts Block residency, 2018 (with Chinatown Art Brigade), where NADI installed two works
- A panel discussion with Darkeem and Jeffrey Gibson at the Drawing Center, moderated by Johanna Burton, director and curator of Education and Public Engagement at the New Museum. The talk touched on drawing, heritage, indigenous art, ceremonies, and radical mark-making.
- A talk at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in conjunction with the exhibition "Art of Native America: The Charles and Valerie Diker Collection"
In Christopher Green of Hyperallergic's interview of the couple about their work in the 2016 Brooklyn show "free play," he wrote about the contrast between their individual styles. He described Lujan's use of the Zuni print as "graphically intense" and Hupfield's materiality as "soft." A Swedish reporter said of their subsequent show "Chez BRKLYN" in Galerie Se Konst, "The artists ... put people at the center, shrinking the world and succeeding in showing how much we are one regardless of home address. It is inspiring, rich with energy, and hopeful. We hope these Brooklyn artists return soon."
They received a review in Artforum of their 2020 solo show at Mercer Union in Toronto, an installation of a variety of works since 2017, including Untitled (Carl Beam), 2017, and two videos they made when they lived in New York City including one with a number of artist-friends made filmed the Bard Graduate Center Gallery, Everything Sacred Is Far Away, 2019. Of the latter, which staged episodes around the life of anthropologist Franz Boas, Gabrielle Moser wrote, "Reminiscent of community-access television, organized-labor role play and strategies from the Theater of the Oppressed.... they reveal something honest about intercultural interactions: that they are always messy, deeply strange, and perpetually under construction."
- Sekeres, Ann Marie; Bradley, Quinn (February 14, 2008). "News: Fifteen Emerging Artists Present Challenging Views of Native America" (PDF). Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.
- Welton, Jessica, ed. (2007). Native Artists in the Americas National Museum of the American Indian Native Arts Program: The First Ten Years (PDF). National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution. pp. 64–65.
- "NAAR – Native American Artist Roster". amerinda.org.
- "Artist Talk: MARIA HUPFIELD". www.concordia.ca.
- Green, Christopher (June 9, 2016). "When You Tell Someone You're an Artist that Is Native, They Tell You Who You Should Be". Hyperallergic.com.
- "Native Art Department International MERCER UNION". Jason_Texas_Canada via Instagram. September 2, 2020.
- "28 January–14 May 2017 Maria Hupfield: The One Who Keeps on Giving". The Power Plant website.
- "Contemporary Native Voices: Jason Lujan". Tacoma Art Museum website.
- Lujan, Jason; Hupfield, Maria. "12/13/2016". nativeartdepartment.org.
- "Without Us There Is No You: Maria Hupfield, Jason Lujan, Jessica L. Horton Screenings & Art in America Special Issue Launch Thursday, October 12, 2017, 7 p.m." Artists Space website.
- "Maintaining Good Relations: Native Art Department International (Maria Hupfield, Jason Lujan) and Christopher Green Audio Livestream Saturday, December 16, 2017, noon - 6 p.m." Artists Space website.
- "Native Art Department International: Bureau of Aesthetics 14 March 2020 - 31 October 2020". Mercer Union. Retrieved September 14, 2020.
- "Trestle Projects: Past". trestlegallery.org. Retrieved August 3, 2017.
- "Galleri Se Konst Falun". www.gallerise.se.
- "In Dialogue: Works by Raven Davis, Raymond Boisjoly, David Garneau, Carola Grahn, Native Art Department International, (Maria Hupfield and Jason Lujan), Nicole Kelly Westman, Duane Linklater, Tanya Lukin-Linklater, Amy Malbeuf, Nadia Myre, Peter Morin, Krista Belle Stewart". Art Museum of the University of Toronto website.
- "Schedule and Program". The Fabulous Festival of Fringe Film website. 2017.
- Droitcour, Brian (October 23, 2017). "Without Us There Is No You: A Conversation at Artists Space". Art in America.
- "2018". skyhopinka.com.
- Lujan, Jason; Hupfield, Maria. "2018". nativeartdepartment.org.
- "Event: The Racial Imaginary Institute: On Whiteness". The Kitchen's website.
- Cornum, Lou (July 23, 2018). "How Whiteness Works: The Racial Imaginary Institute at the Kitchen". Art in America.
- Hemispheric Institute (May 2018). "Cut Through: Reconfiguring Relationships Between Identity, Artmaking, and Movement Building". vimeo.com.
- "Events: 6:30 pm Sept. 17, 2018 Panel Discussion Dennis Redmoon Darkeem, Native Art Department International, and Jeffrey Gibson. Moderated by Johanna Burton". Drawing Center website.
- "Met Roundtables: Contemporary Native Art Featuring Maria Hupfield, artist Jason Lujan, artist". Metropolitan Museum of Art. February 22, 2019.
- Ekebjär, Cecilia (August 26, 2016). "Raketgevär, automatkarbiner och ... "känslan av en person" – utställning i Falun lockar". www.dt.se.
- Moser, Gabrielle (September 2020). "Reviews: Native Art Department International MERCER UNION". Artforum.