Contemporary Native Voices
In 2015, in her role as Haub Fellow, Asia Tail created the Contemporary Native Voices project for Tacoma Art Museum. She interviewed over 20 individuals on Native American representation in art, and integrated Native voices into the museum’s galleries through wall text, interactive activities, and commissioned performances.
Tacoma Art Museum’s Art of the American West: The Haub Family Collection includes many artworks depicting Native American cultures. Most of these images were created by non-Native artists, and while some are sensitive portrayals, others reflect artists’ preconceptions, Euro-centric viewpoints, and the biases of their own time. Tacoma Art Museum reached out to Native individuals locally and nationally to gather input and deconstruct these representations. The participants interviewed vary widely in age, profession, tribal affiliation, and opinion, and represent only a small cross section of Native American voices.
Read the interviews at www.tacomaartmuseum.org/voices.
Asia selected quotations from Native community members, historical figures, and some of her own interpretations to feature on wall labels in the Haub Galleries. These written additions were designed to introduce museum visitors to alternative readings of artworks, and represented authentic Indigenous perspectives which are often silenced or distorted in Western American art.
Asia designed and implemented educational gallery interpretation including an interactive portrait station in the (Re)Presenting Native Americans exhibition focused on empathy-building. She provided equity-based trainings for teachers and docents, and created two new tour offerings focused on contemporary Native American identity from Indigenous perspectives. She also forged new partnerships with various community groups and Native American Education Coordinators, and increased museum visitation by Native youth by over 100 students in one year.
See the Contemporary Connections guide at www.tacomaartmuseum.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Contemporary-Connections-Guide.pdf.