New work by Native American and Alaska Native artists on display at the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery

Sharing the Honors and Burdens: Renwick Invitational 2023 focuses on the fresh and nuanced visions of six contemporary Native American and Alaska Native artists articulating the honors and burdens that bind people together. The exhibition features objects by Jo Feddersen (Arrow Lakes/Okanagan), Lily Hope (Tlingit), Ursala Hudson (Tlingit), Erika Lord (Athabaskan/Inupiat), Geo Neptune (Pasamakodi) and Maggie Thompson (Lac Ojibwe Foundation) who speak to take responsibility for driving cultural traditions into Forward while shaping the future with innovative artwork. Their work is often culturally specific, yet they communicate across cultural boundaries. The 55 artworks in the exhibition stem from traditions honoring family, community or clan and require broad community participation.

The exhibition is on display from May 26 to March 31, 2024, in the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC. Arts at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and current Vice President of First Peoples Fund Programs, with Nora Atkinson, Nora Atkinson, and Charles Pressler in Charge at Renwick Gallery.

said Stephanie Stepich, director of the Margaret and Terry Stent for the Smithsonian American Art Museum. “It is also a special burden of responsibility to display their artwork in a way that acknowledges the past, present, and future. As visitors experience the pioneering craft of these makers, we invite them to embrace a more nuanced understanding of how Indigenous perspectives and experiences shape American art today.”

This marked the first time that the artists selected for the Renwick Invitational were all Native American and Alaska Native. They are all members of separate sovereign states: the Tlingit and Haida tribes of Alaska, the Nenana Native Assembly, the Wabanaki Confederation, the Okanagan Nation, and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. The artists were selected by a panel of distinguished jurors, including Evans. Miranda Bilardi-Lewis (Zuni/Tlingit), independent curator and Jill and Jo McKinstry Fellow in the College of North American Indigenous Knowledge at the University of Washington iSchool; and Anya Montiel (of Mexican descent/Tohono O’Dham), Curator of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.

The exhibition includes 13 new artworks created over the past year as well as three pieces commissioned by the museum specifically for the exhibition: “Between Realms (Baby Robe)” by Hope, “Sister Bear” by Hudson and “The Codes We Carry” by Lord. The museum recently acquired “Horses and Deer” by Feddersen and expects to acquire works by all featured artists for its permanent collection.

Making it is not only a form of self-expression, but also a powerful way to tackle everyday life and express connections with society. In doing so, each artist uses traditional forms of fabrication—weaving, beading, and stitching—and adapts materials and techniques to create contemporary works of art. Individually, each artisan works in some way using techniques, materials, or concepts embedded in the customary practices and history of their tribe, but their work is also intended to engage with global audiences. Adding to the complexities of making the unique decisions that Native and Alaska Native artists must consider while creating, including balancing traditional functional forms with aesthetics and personal narrative, determining appropriate aspects to share with outside and non-Native audiences, and weighing the risks and benefits involved in adapting historical practices for uses new.

The artists in “Sharing Honors and Burdens: Renwick Invitational 2023” come from communities where manufacturing is an honorable way to be recognized: for example, Feddersen is a printmaker, glass artist, and basket maker who designs geometric patterns sourced from everyday life. Lorde, a multimedia artist, creates embroidered load straps and sled blankets with personifications of diseases that disproportionately affect indigenous and other marginalized communities. Neptune is a master basket maker, activist, and educator who uses colorful narratives to emphasize the honor and burden of keeping traditions alive. Hope and Hudson, two sisters, weave labor-intensive textiles that convey Tlingit values ​​of reciprocity and balance, and maintain cultural integrity while experimenting with new forms and materials. A tapestry artist, Thompson has created large-scale works that explore the intersections of grief and trauma with honor, beauty, and healing.

“In the summer of 2021, as Anya, Miranda, and I discussed our choices, we found our way around two related themes that connect these artists’ practices and their artwork: tributes and burdens,” Evans said. “The works of art themselves make tangible the range of honors and burdens we carry with us, from the grief and trauma of personal and community loss to the precious knowledge gained from teachers and ancestors. Sharing Honor and Burdens helps us reflect on these ideas through elaborate works of art, large and small, In stillness and motion.”

A series of videos have been produced for the exhibition, including an introductory video with guest curator Evans and six artist videos focusing on the artists in their studios produced by the Institute of American Indian Arts in association with the Museum. The videos are available on the museum’s YouTube channel and are part of the presentation in the gallery. Visitors are encouraged to reflect on the honors and burdens in their lives through a response wall at the end of the exhibition.

Founded in 2000, the Renwick Invitational showcases emerging and mid-career makers who deserve wider national recognition. Sharing Honors and Burdens: Renwick Invitational 2023 is the tenth installment in the series. It is the latest example of the museum’s commitment to highlighting contemporary Native American artists and Indigenous voices through acquisitions and exhibitions.

public programmes

The museum will offer a strong range of public programming in conjunction with the exhibition, starting with an open house on Friday, May 26, from 11am-3pm, featuring all six artists; Guest curator Evans will be giving a talk at the exhibition at noon. A series of artist talks are planned throughout the exhibition. Evans moderated a virtual conversation between Lord and Thompson Thursday, Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. ET. Billard Lewis moderated a conversation between Neptune and Hope on Thursday, November 16 at 6:30 p.m. ET that will be held online and in person at the Museum’s McEvoy Auditorium in the Main Building (8th and 3rd Streets NW). Feddersen will lead an in-person-only workshop Thursday, January 25, 2024 at 4:30 PM followed by a conversation with Montiel at 6:30 PM ET that will be in person and online. Programming concludes with a virtual artist talk with Hudson Thursday, March 7, 2024 at 7 p.m. ET. These programs are free, but registration is required. More information is available on the museum’s website at


A beautifully illustrated catalog, co-published by the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Washington Press University, accompanies the exhibition, with essays by Jury Evans, Belardi Lewis, and Montell. Each jury highlights two artists: Evans focuses on the operations of Lord and Thompson while Montell reflects on the work and legacy of Feddersen and Neptune. Finally, Billard Lewis highlights Hope and Hudson’s contributions to crafts. It is available for purchase ($35) in the Museum Store and online.


The Smithsonian American Art Museum is organizing the “Participation With Honors and Burdens: Renwick Invitational 2023.” The Ryna and Melvin Cohen Family Foundation Endowment provides support for the Renwick Invitational. The Cohen family’s generosity in establishing this endowment helps make possible this series highlighting outstanding artisanal artists who deserve broader national recognition.

Additional support was provided by the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, the Robert Lehman Foundation, the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, the Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts, the Windgate Foundation, and the Wyeth Foundation for American Art.

About the Smithsonian American Art Museum

The Smithsonian Museum of American Art is the United States’ premier museum of American art and crafts. It is home to one of the most important and comprehensive collections of American art in the world. The museum’s main building, located at Eighth and G Streets NW, is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. The Renwick Gallery, a subsidiary museum dedicated to contemporary crafts, is located on Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street NW and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Check online for current hours and admission information. Submission is free. Follow the museum on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Smithsonian Information: (202) 633-1000. Museum Information (Recorded): (202) 633-7970. Website:

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Note to editors: Selected high-resolution images for publicity are only available through the museum’s Dropbox account. Email [email protected] to request the link.


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