Monarchs: Brown and Native Contemporary Artists in the Path of the Butterfly

Monarchs takes the migration path of the monarch butterfly as a geographic range and a metaphor. The butterfly crosses the border of the United States at its junctions with Canada to the north and Mexico to the south. It travels through the Midwestern states of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois, across the Great Plains of Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma, onward through the Texas Hill Country to its final destination: the Oyamel Fir forests of Michoacan, Mexico. The path of the monarch also connects the Standing Rock Nation to the U.S.-Mexico border, but the butterfly itself is indifferent to these artificial borders and conceptual divisions.

The traveling exhibition Monarchs sees the defense of Standing Rock and the possibility of a border wall as continuous issues that pose challenges to people native to the Americas who have been separated by conceptual categories of indigenous, immigrant and assimilated Americans. Like the butterfly, which takes four generations to make the complete migratory path navigating its way through the center of the United States by drawing from inherited knowledge, these 42 artists also pull from ancestral and cultural memory to reveal the deep conceptual legacies underpinning abstraction, reorient historical and art historical narratives, and explore centuries-old trade routes that moved people and aesthetics in addition to goods.

This exhibition is curated by Risa Puleo and organized by Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha, Nebraska, where it was first presented December 7, 2017, to February 24, 2018. The accompanying catalog is supported, in part, by the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation, Sandra Fossum, and Watie White.

For more information about the reception and lecture ‘Monarchs’ held on March 7 and the Third Thursday Curator’s presentation held on April 18, refer to the museum calendar for upcoming events. 

We are deeply grateful to the Jedel Family Foundation for their financial support of this exhibition.

Gina Adams
Norman Akers
Carmen Argote
Natalie Ball
Margarita Cabrera
Juan William Chavez
William Cordova
Rafa Esparza
Yatika Starr Fields
Nancy Friedemann-Sánchez
Guillermo Galindo
Jeffrey Gibson
Sky Hopkina
Donna Huanca
Salvador Jimenez-Flores
Merritt Johnson
Merritt Johnson and Nicholas Galanin
Truman Lowe
Ivan Lozano
Cannupa Hanska Luger and Marty Two Bulls Jr.
Rodolfo Marron III
Harold Mendez and Ronny Quevedo
Mark Menjivar
Fidencio Fifield Perez
Ronny Quevedo
Wendy Red Star
Gonzalo Reyes Rodriguez
Josh Rios and Anthony Romero
Guadalupe Rosales
Carlos Rosales-Silva
Edra Soto
Francisco Souto
Rodrigo Valenzuela
Mary Valverde
Kukuli Velarde
Dyani White Hawk
Holly Wilson
Sarah Zapata