Elisa Harkins Submitted photo by Ian Byers-Gamber

An evening with artist/choreographer/dancer Elisa Harkins, who will share video screenings of her performances and talk about her work, will be presented at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 8, at the Bates College Museum of Art. Four videos by Harkins play in Bates Museum’s current exhibition “Exploding Native Inevitable,” on view through March 4. The public is welcome to the event and the exhibition free of charge.

Harkins maintains a deep interest in Indigenous language preservation and translation. She garners rich person-to-person knowledge of customs and incorporates Cherokee and Mvskoke language, dress, and historic Indigenous texts with English, electronic music, contemporary dance, and clothing. “A large part of my working philosophy is centered on performance and the body,” says Harkins. “How can I as an Indigenous artist mark land with my body, and in this mark-making, how can we unearth and tell histories, make intertribal treaty, and reclaim lands simply with the body?” Her unique fusion of specific historic Indigenous elements with contemporary culture explores, transforms, preserves, and shares endangered language and music.

Harkins (Muscogee/Creek Nation, b. 1978, Miami, Oklahoma; lives in Muscogee Reservation, Oklahoma) received a BA from Columbia College, MFA from California Institute of the Arts, and Certificate in Mvskoke Language at the College of Muscogee Nation, and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Dedicated to community, Harkins created an Indigenous concert series called 6 Moons and a record of Creek/Seminole Hymns, and DJs for Mvhayv Radio, an Indigenous radio show in Tulsa and Indianapolis.  Her works and performances have been featured at Artists Space, New York; Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha, Nebraska;  documenta 14, Kassel, Germany; Hammer Museum, University of California, Los Angeles; Moderna Dansteatern, Stockholm, Sweden;  Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Illinois; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, Oklahoma, among many others.   Her work is in the collections of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

“Exploding Native Inevitable” is an exhibition of the work of twelve contemporary Indigenous artists and two collaboratives, accompanied by an ongoing program of dance, film, music, performance, readings, story-telling, and video by Indigenous artists. Exhibiting artists range from emerging to elders. “They are amazing voices, make compelling art, and have important things to say,” said co-curator Brad Kahlhamer. He continued, “The artists build on cultural traditions, push new creative boundaries, and represent some of the extraordinary work being created by Indigenous artists across the land.”

After closing at Bates, the exhibition will travel to Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art; Sheldon Museum of Art, University of Nebraska; and Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art, Utah State University.

The Bates Museum of Museum of Art is a teaching museum at a liberal arts college. The Museum of Art and its exhibitions, collections, stewardship, and interpretation bring a world of ideas to enhance the vitality of the intellectual and cultural life of Bates, the surrounding communities, and beyond. The museum is located at Olin Arts Center at 75 Russell St., Lewiston. It is free and open from Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and also until 7:30 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays from September to May. See bates.edu/museum/ for more information.

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