The Arts and U

Native Artist Hosts Alternative Tours, Presentations around Go West!

Native American performance artist DeLesslin George-Warren offers a thought-provoking perspective on the art and history of the West through free tours and presentations around “Go West! Art of the American Frontier from the Buffalo Bill Center of the West” at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts this week. The events are part of the museum’s Now West! series of programs encouraging deeper conversation and learning around this consequential chapter of American history.

At 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 11, George-Warren, a queer artist and researcher from the Catawba Indian Nation, will give a dynamic lecture-performance recounting his personal history and that of his Native community. The personal, political and historical weave together through song, storytelling and lecture as audience and performer ponder the question: which stories do we tell and why?

“There’s such purposeful ignorance about U.S. history, not in the sense that anyone wants to be ignorant, but that the people who make up curricula, who decide what gets taught, have through their actions created a lot of ignorance in the populace about what has actually happened in U.S. history,” George-Warren said in a recent Hyperallergic article.

Wednesday, Jan. 10 – Saturday, Jan 13, George-Warren will lead free tours of “Go West!” that retell the story of westward expansion, frontier violence and indigenous dispossession and give presentations suited for children and families. (Space is limited. Please RSVP to vasiliki.karahalios@umfa.utah.edu.) George-Warren led indigenous tours of the Smithsonian’s Presidential Portrait Gallery last year.

Also this week, the UMFA will host an ACME session exploring “Native American Artists’ Voices,” featuring George-Warren and three Native artists with Utah ties.

“Now West!” programs explore “Go West!” from a variety of critical perspectives, addressing complicated ideas like Manifest Destiny, the “frontier,” and the forced resettlement of American Indian peoples. Speakers range from Native American artists and scholars to art historians to a writer who studies the LGBTQ history of the West.

“Asking questions, celebrating multiple voices, and fostering understanding is inherent to the museum’s educational mission,” said Jorge Rojas, UMFA director of education and engagement. “These programs inspire honest conversation, creative exploration and thoughtful commentary. They’re meant to help visitors of all ages and demographics experience this exhibition through a variety of necessary contemporary lenses.”

Go West! Art of the American Frontier from the Buffalo Bill Center of the West,” on view through March 11, considers evolving notions of our region through artworks by both Euro-American and Plains Indian artists.

All “Now West!” programs are free and open to the public. Visit UMFA for the complete schedule.