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Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and Museum of Native American History Announce the Opening of Companion Species

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art announces the opening of Companion Species: We are All Related, a new, focus exhibition and collaborative project that will be presented both at Crystal Bridges and the Museum of Native American History (MONAH) in Bentonville from November 21, 2020 to May 24, 2021. These artworks created by Native and non-Native artists honor and tell stories about the web of relationships between and among humans, animals, and nature. The exhibition is free to view at both locations. After its presentation in Bentonville, the exhibition will travel to two other museums with support from Art Bridges foundation.

“We are excited to partner with MONAH on this project, and especially the ways this project encourages new ways of seeing art in conversation,” said Mindy Besaw, curator, American art, and director of fellowships and research. “This artwork serves as a jumping-off point to explore concepts of connectedness, storytelling, and community through art and objects across our collections.”

“Art Bridges is committed to inclusive presentations of American art,” said Ashley Holland, assistant curator, Art Bridges.  “It is always important to recognize the diversity of what is now called the United States, but this art also helps to highlight moments of shared stories and values.

Companion Species takes inspiration from the recent Crystal Bridges acquisition, Companion Species: Speech Bubble by Marie Watt (Seneca). The work was made with the help of willing hands of sewing circles in Northwest Arkansas, eastern Oklahoma, and Honolulu, Hawaii in the fall of 2018 and winter 2019. Made from reclaimed wool blankets in shades of red, Companion Species (Speech Bubble) is shaped like a megaphone. Words such as “neighbor” and “hate” are mixed with familial words such as “mother,” “grandmother,” and “brother.” The words draw attention to Indigenous ways of acknowledging relatedness, but also come from the 1971 Marvin Gaye song, “What’s Going On.” At Crystal Bridges, Watt’s work will be in conversation with paintings and sculpture by artists such as Harry Fonseca, Ma Pe Wi, Woody Crumbo, Louise Bourgeois, William Holbrook Beard, and a variety of historic objects from different Native American communities from MONAH’s collection.

“Native American History is American history, Charlotte Buchanan-Yale, director, Museum of Native American History. “It is our mission at MONAH to expand the conversation of the native peoples through our collection and programming. This exciting exhibition with Crystal Bridges reflects an indigenous perspective of interconnectedness and the hope of inseparable harmony for all creation: human, our animal relations, and the land we live on.”

At MONAH, 15 artworks from Crystal Bridges will be installed within the galleries alongside MONAH’s collection of historic Native American art. Visitors will see Thomas Moran’s landscape of Wyoming and Joseph Stella’s large painting of abstract floral and bird forms in dialogue with Plains headdresses and Lone Dog’s Winter Count.

To learn more about Companion Species, visit here. For news updates, follow Crystal Bridges on the Blog, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

Companion Species is sponsored by the Terra Foundation for American Art and Micky and Marybeth Mayfield.