‘Boundless’ exhibition of Indigenous creativity opens fall season at the Mead Art Museum

Show weaves together images, text, music and more from artists across generations

AMHERST, Mass. (August 31, 2023) —Boundless, the Mead Art Museum’s headlining exhibition for Fall 2023, will open now and runs through Jan. 7, 2024, with an abridged version to follow in Spring 2024. An opening reception at the Mead will be held Sept. 14, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Boundless gathers scores of objects and texts—sculpture, historic and contemporary writing, photographs, quillwork, music scores, basketry and more—to celebrate Indigenous creativity, resistance and persistence.

The exhibition includes items from the Amherst College Collection of Native American Literature and the Mead’s collection, along with key loans from the Northeast and beyond. Reading rooms within the exhibition offer guests a chance to engage with Native American-authored and illustrated books and zines for all ages.

“The ripples of connection I felt between each object, each book I researched, each Native artist we visited, each conversation with an advisor—it all revealed connections that sprang from place, kinship, culture and the living world,” said writer Heid E. Erdrich (Ojibwe), who curated Boundless.

The exhibition includes the works of more than 150 artists as an entry point to more than three centuries of intertwined artistic and literary collaborations and cross-pollination. While grounded in the creative work of Indigenous people, at times Boundless also incorporates objects by non-Native creators to further its inquiries.

“The ways Boundless could have been put together are many, but as I gathered the art and books included in the exhibition, it was always going to move like water. Water filled my thinking from the moment I started,” Erdrich writes in the exhibition catalog, which will be published in 2024 by Amherst College Press.

Boundless was developed in dialogue with an advisory committee that includes members from the Nipmuc, Wampanoag, Shinnecock and Mohegan Tribal Nations, among others. The committee received support from staff at Mead Art Museum, Amherst College Archives & Special Collections, and the Five Colleges, as well as Five College students.

The exhibition’s expansive vision generates overlapping moments of shared themes, approaches, ancestry, and perspectives that invite visitors to draw their own connections.

Boundless hosts a number of unique objects by authors, artists, and musicians, including:

  • Never-before-exhibited drawings by Mary Sully (Dakota)
  • Writing by Fritz Scholder (Luiseño) alongside his better-known visual works
  • Pages from the Mamusse Wunneetupanatamwe Up-Biblum God, a 1663 Algonquin-language Bible created by a team that included three Indigenous translators and a Nipmuc printer

Some of the living artists with works on view are:

  • Jaune Quick-to-See Smith (Salish-Kootenai/Metis)
  • Andrea Carlson (Anishinaabe)
  • Theresa Secord (Penobscot)
  • Courtney M. Leonard (Shinnecock)
  • Eric Gansworth (Onondaga)
  • Elizabeth James-Perry (Aquinnah Wampanoag)
  • Dyani White Hawk (Sicangu Lakota)
  • Sierra Henries (Nipmuc)

Programming connected to Boundless will be offered throughout the exhibition’s time at the Mead. A preliminary schedule:

  • Saturdays, Aug. 12 – Oct. 31 – Free, family-friendly art-making activities at the Amherst Farmers Market
  • Sept. 13 – Mona Susan Power reading (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe), sponsored by the Amherst College English Department
  • Sept 14 – 6-8 p.m. – Boundless and Seeping In: Elizabeth James-Perry Opening Reception 
  • Oct. 1 – Tell It Slant Festival writing workshop with Abigail Chabitnoy (Koniag descendant, member of the Tangirnaq Native Village), in partnership with the Emily Dickinson Museum
  • Oct. 12 – Boundless Curator talk by Heid E. Erdrich
  • Oct. 20 – Artist demonstration by Elizabeth James-Perry

Details and updates on public programming will be shared on the Mead events page and social media as they develop.

For journalists, there is also a Boundless media kit available, with images, captions, participating artist lists and more.