Omaskêko Cree artist Duane Linklater puzzles and confounds, crafting culturally entangled artworks that seduce viewers into facing the paradoxes of contemporary Indigenous life. In Linklater’s latest show at Seattle’s Frye Art Museum, opening September 18, 2021, chief curator Amanda Donnan presents a survey of his art from the last decade, including new site-responsive installations—and gave us all the details.
Why did you choose to feature Duane Linklater at the Frye?
I admire the complexity of ideas Duane is able to tap into using an economy of means, and it felt important that the museum and Seattle grapple with the concerns animating his work—namely, the marginalization and misapprehension of contemporary Indigenous perspectives.
Share some of your favorite pieces. The exhibition ranges from more poetic, intimately-scaled moments to politically-charged feats of architectural engineering. My favorites tend to walk between those extremes. Can the circle be unbroken, 2019 (left) is a set of five large tepee cover “paintings” that Duane made following the death of his mother. The covers are installed hanging taut, draping on the walls, or folded on the floor, which to me powerfully evokes a loss of center. The circle of home is broken.
What is the significance of this show? Duane’s work asks important and difficult questions that have broad implications but remain grounded in his own experience. Perhaps the significance is simply that—honoring an Indigenous person and artist’s complex subjectivity and range of expression.