Written by: Clarissa Leigh
Mįhą́pmąk by Cannupa Hanska Luger is a solo exhibition presented at the Center for Craft in Asheville, North Carolina, until January 28, 2023. Mįhą́pmąk translates to presence and resilience, conveying an enrolled member of the Three Affiliated Tribes of Fort Berthold, and rediscovers Mandan ceramics practices of Luger's ancestors. The exhibit features ceramics, research ephemera, and documentation from his ongoing research project of the past two years that recovers his ancestors' Mandan clay traditions. The utilization of playacting as a form of discovery captures how craft works to canonize tradition despite art constantly moving more broadly apart from it.
Luger is a multidisciplinary artist and recipient of the Craft Research Fund Artist Fellowship by the Center for Craft in 2020. The substantial mid-career grant is awarded each year to artists in support of research projects that advance and expand the creation of new research and knowledge through craft practice. Luger presents Mandan clay traditions he learned while working with community elders and integrating contemporary manufacturing methods, to achieve the effects and results of his work. Luger conveys speculative fiction through monumental installations, social collaboration, and storytelling of 21st-century indigeneity, with a critical cultural analysis of diverse materials, environments, and communities. On his work and experience researching and cultivating the Mandan clay exhibit, Luger said,
"After digging, processing, testing, firing, observing, destroying, pulverizing, and making with clay over two years, I have only begun to understand the complex ancestral technologies of my Mandan ancestors. Yet, a memory has been woken in my muscles—I am at the beginning—honoring the knowledge of before, the experimentation of the present, and practicing a way forward for future generations of my people. My hope is that [this research] provides reflection to possible experiences for Indigenous people of my heritage to reacquaint themselves with clay.”
The Center for Craft supports the understanding, prominence, and historical significance of the craft movement by identifying and cultivating opportunities for field researchers and artists. The Center will incorporate a strategic plan called Craft Matters, which activates resources, catalyzes craft communities, and amplifies craft’s impact, which has a lasting effect. Mįhą́pmąk contributes to the Center's values of presenting diverse, cross-disciplinary craft that emerging voices have curated. As stated, "We encourage and stimulate inquiry and dialogue. This allows the craft field space to dance with a concept—to clarify, examine, and document a complexity that allows for growth and deeper understanding."
Mįhą́pmąk surveys Luger’s ongoing research and demonstrates indigenous clay experience as a living continuum by integrating his ancestral knowledge with contemporary technologies and future practices. Mįhą́pmąk is curated and organized by the Center for Craft with support by the N.C. Arts Council of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. Mįhą́pmąk will be presented in the John Cram Gallery at the Center for Craft in Asheville, North Carolina, for public viewing until January 28, 2023.
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