Image: Installation view of the exhibition In Their Own Words

On View

Feb 19 - Sep 5, 2011

Curated By

Jennifer Garey

The exhibition was funded in part by The County of San Diego Community Enhancement Program.

The exhibition presented classic art from North America’s indigenous artisans from the Museum’s collection shown alongside paintings by four native-Californian contemporary artists: Robert Freeman, Billy Soza Warsoldier, Catherine Nelson-Rodriguez and L. Frank.

Billy Soza Warsoldier, (Cahuilla/Apache and a member of Soboba), has been an artist in residence at The Arts Students League in New York City, has attended The Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe and has been exhibited in numerous international venues. Soza Warsoldier creates series of paintings that reflect periods or events in his life. His wolf series was born of a personal encounter with a wild grey wolf, and his prison series reflects the injustices Native American peoples have faced over the course of centuries.

Robert L. Freeman, (Luiseño) and member of Rincon Reservation, has won more than150 national Indian awards for paintings of Indian and western subjects. Freeman brings an eye for the real and surreal to his work. Many paintings depict actual people or scenes he has encountered, while other works are created from deep within the artist.

Catherine Nelson-Rodriguez, (Luiseño/Wailaki/Choctaw), is a self-taught artist. Her work has been exhibited locally and in New York. Nelson-Rodriguez paints her personal pain, frustration, joy and healing. Starkly exposed and vulnerable, she allows us to be guests on the journey of her life.

L. Frank (Tongva/Ajachmem) is an activist, author and artist working in many media – paint, basket weaving, sculpture and photography. L. Frank’s paintings reflect her dedication to the preservation of California’s native cultures. A book of her witty Acorn Soup cartoons highlights Coyote in all his guises. She is also co-author with Kim Hogeland of _First Families: Photographic History of California Indians._

Today, Native American art encompasses every style, medium and message, and is as distinct and personal as the individual artist. The four California artists represented in this exhibition shared two things: they predominantly worked on canvas with oils or acrylics and they all projected a personal message in their work.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS – A Panel Discussion with the Artists featured Robert Freeman and L. Frank. It was moderated by Guest Curator Jennifer Garey who guided the participants in a discussion of the history of Native American art and culture, its diversity, how it was perceived, what was changing and how each panelist used art to create a new picture of the Native American experience. In conjunction with the San Diego Museum of Man’s 28th Annual American Indian Art Market and film Festival (May 13-15) Mingei International presented a Robert Freeman demonstrated his painting technique on Saturday, May 14. Scholar, composer and musician Alan Lechusza Aquallo and a group of local Bird Singers presented A Gift from the Birds on Saturday, August 13.