The Wheelwright Museum is pleased to present multi-disciplinary artist, Nathan Young (Delaware/Kiowa/Pawnee), who researched the Wheelwright collection and through exploration and selection created a site-specific installation utilizing his findings. The installation, Activation/Transformation will be displayed in the Shultz Gallery from November 6, 2021, through April 3, 2022.
Chief Curator Andrea Hanley invited Nathan Young to utilize objects in the Wheelwright Museum to create his own interpretation of the collection. The installation includes objects drawn from the museum’s extensive collection of silver jewelry and metalwork. Young’s visual selection of items and arrangement creates a single abstract composition. The objects speak for themselves, allowing both Young and the public to find new ways to contemplate and understand the objects.
Young states, “I engage in the re-imagined. Using the Wheelwright collection as a point of departure is exciting and looks to the very experimental way of my practice. I am telling a complicated story of the Southwest mystique and looking for different narratives in contemporary Native art.”
The Wheelwright Museum acts as a creative catalyst for the installation and Young is creating a space that reflects the museum’s history, celebrates current artistic endeavors, and experiments with future methodologies of emerging Native art. The installation explores how contemporary artists can employ existing art and materials as a tool in making new work, and how activating a museum collection in this way, can give it new meaning and interpretation.
The Wheelwright Museum selected Young to work on this project by the nature of his very broad practice which moves very fluidly through many mediums. Whether creating music scores, working from preexisting materials, social practice projects, or his role in Tribal politics, he looks to create a strong connected vernacular. Young was born in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, in 1975 and is an artist, scholar, and composer working in an expanded practice that incorporates sound, video, documentary, animation, installation, socially engaged art, and experimental and improvised music. Young’s work often engages the spiritual and the political, re-imagining indigenous sacred imagery to complicate and subvert notions of the sublime. Young is a founding and former member of the artist collective Postcommodity. He holds a master’s in fine art in Music/Sound from Bard College’s Milton-Avery School of the Arts. Young is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in the University of Oklahoma’s innovative Native American Art History doctoral program, where his scholarship is focused on Indigenous sonic agency. Young’s work has been supported by Creative Capital, The Tulsa Artist Fellowship, The George Kaiser Family Foundation, The Pew Foundation, the Carnegie Mellon Foundation, the Tribeca Film Institute, and the Sundance Institute. Young is an enrolled member of the Delaware Tribe of Indians and a direct descendent of the Pawnee Nation and Kiowa Tribe. Young served as an elected Tribal council member of the Delaware Tribe of Indians from 2016 through 2020.