Cree Artist Kent Monkman to Speak at the Hood Museum

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The annual Dr. Allen W. Root Contemporary Art Lecture is set for Oct. 13.

People look at artwork in the exhibit Kent Monkman: The Great Mystery.
Kent Monkman: The Great Mystery includes two pieces by the Cree artist commissioned for the Hood Museum. The exhibit will be displayed through Dec. 16. (Photo by Rob Strong ’04)

One of Canada’s best known contemporary artists will talk about his work at a lecture on Friday at the Hood Museum of Art.

Cree artist Kent Monkman will give the annual Dr. Allen W. Root Contemporary Art Lecture at 5 p.m. on Oct. 13 in the Hood Museum Auditorium, followed by a reception in Russo Atrium.

Monkman will discuss his work currently on display in the Hood Museum exhibit Kent Monkman: The Great Mystery, his recent return to abstract expressionism, and how both connect to his forthcoming book, The Memoirs of Miss Chief Eagle Testickle: Vol. 1, named for his gender-fluid alter-ego.

The Great Mystery, which runs through Dec. 16, features two pieces commissioned for the Hood Museum’s permanent collections.

Monkman, who now lives in Toronto, says that in the beginning of his professional painting career, he pursued abstraction as “the painterly vocabulary” he used to express himself.

Kent Monkman, second from left, looks at paintings.
 Kent Monkman, second from left, looks at paint swatches he made to match a Mark Rothko painting at the Hood Museum of Art with Head of Communications Alison Palizzolo, Curator of Indigenous Art Jami Powell, and Monkman’s creative director, Brad Tinmouth. (Photo by Anna Kaye Schulte)

“I made my own unique mark with paint, but failed to communicate the weight and violence of themes that were important to me—colonialism, aggressive evangelization, genocide, and colonized sexuality,” he says. “It was only later, when I moved into figurative painting, that I could bring our shared histories, and my rewriting of them, into the conversation.”

Based on artwork in the Hood Museum’s permanent collections, the commissioned pieces—“conversations” with work by Mark Rothko, Hannes Beckmann, and Fritz Scholder—represent a significant shift in Monkman’s practice, says Jami Powell, the Hood Museum’s associate director of curatorial affairs and curator of Indigenous art.

And they have helped her develop a greater understanding of the abstract paintings in the Hood Museum’s collection, says Powell, who curated the exhibit. “I am excited to share The Great Mystery and Ghostflower with our audiences through this exhibition and for years to come.”

Monkman’s painting and installation works have been exhibited at institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the National Gallery of Canada, the Hayward Gallery in London, Witte de With Centre for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and Musée d’art Contemporain de Rochechouart in France.

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