During her research at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC, Gina Adams happened upon images of her ancestors. These photographs—taken in boarding schools that forced the assimilation of Indigenous youths or as portraits of tribal leaders involved in diplomatic relations—inspired the Ancestor Beadwork Prism series. Adams electronically composes colorful patterning, or “digital beadwork prisms,” derived from the carpets and curtains in the original photographs, their sharp, colorful patterning contrasting with the grainy archival images of her ancestors.
This imagery honors Adams’s ancestors and other figures who have been erased from historical narratives, including Frances Densmore (1867–1957). Densmore spent decades with the Smithsonian Institution’s Bureau of American Ethnology studying and preserving Native music, but was largely uncredited compared to her male counterparts. According to the artist, Densmore spent a lot of time with Adams’s great, great uncle Mishugiiziguk, an elder respected across the Great Lakes. Adams hopes to empower future generations to continue striving for representation, creating space, and enacting change.
From the 2020 exhibition Reconstitution, curated by Jessica Hong, Associate Curator of Global Contemporary Art
Reconstitution, Dorothy and Churchill P. Lathrop Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, January 2, 2020 - June 20, 2021.
Its Honor is Here Pledged, AVA Gallery and Art Center, Lebanon, New Hampshire; September 9–October 12, 2016
John R. Stomberg, The Hood Now: Art and Inquiry at Dartmouth, Hanover, New Hampshire: Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, 2019, p. 50, ill. fig. 8.4.
The artist, Longmont, Colorado; sold to present collection, 2018.
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