Chris Newell Submitted photo

Chris Newell, executive director of the Abbe Museum and senior partner to the Wabanaki Nations, will present the Center for Maine Contemporary Art’s 2021 Distinguished Lecture from 5-7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 10, in CMCA’s Main Gallery in Rockland. A reception will immediately follow the lecture.

An educator helping lead the charge in decolonizing museum practice, Newell will speak on the need for reconnecting Indigenous knowledge to historic conservation and collection spaces, including museums and National Parks. In 2021, conservation is quickly catching up to the fact that divorcing Indigenous intellectual and cultural property, knowledge, and context from collections they govern has created a huge void of knowledge about the collections themselves.

Newell summarizes his lecture saying, “Since its inception in the 19th century, the conservation movement in America created collecting institutions including museums and land conservation spaces like National Parks. For Native peoples in this country, these spaces are often devoid of Indigenous knowledge. The result is skewed, controversial, and sometimes misleading information about America’s history. Counteracting this long-time phenomenon involves the decolonization and re-Indigenization of Native information, objects, arts, and cultures. Newell’s lecture will explore key questions, such as “What lies at the crossroads of science, culture, history, and art?” and “How can it benefit us all?”

Newell is a multi-award-winning museum professional born and raised in Motahkmikuhk (Indian Township, Maine) and a proud citizen of the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Indian Township. He serves on the Board of Trustees for the New England Museum Association, Tides Institute and is a current member of the Maine Arts Commission. He is a long-time singer with the acclaimed Mystic River singers based out of Connecticut and has travelled the US and Canada singing participating in cultural celebrations, pow wows, and live stage performances. A co-founder of educational consultancy Akomawt Educational Initiative, he works with schools, universities, museums, and all areas of education to incorporate Native perspectives in a culturally competent manner.

Now in its 7th year, CMCA’s annual Distinguished Lecture brings to CMCA some of the leading artists and cultural thinkers of today. Past presenters include Dr. Lonnie Bunch, newly appointed Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution; artists Alex Katz and David Salle; Jerry Saltz, Pultizer Prize winning art critic at New York magazine, and John Yau, poet, art critic, and weekend editor for the global online art magazine Hyperallergic.

Tickets are $20 for CMCA Members, $25 for Non-members and are available for purchase online at our events page at Capacity is limited to 80 seats.

CMCA is a contemporary arts institution presenting year-round exhibitions, engaging events, and educational programs for all ages on site and online. Center for Maine Contemporary Art’s Main Gallery is located at 21 Winter St., Rockland. For additional information about this year’s lecture or CMCA, please visit our events page at or call (207) 701-5005.

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