I finally was able to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art again. The number of visitors is limited due to Covid, but it was a great time. I'll have to share some stuff that I loved, but maybe I loved too much because it has been so long since I have been out.
Kent Monkman has been selected to create two monumental paintings for The Met's Great Hall. Monkman, born in Canada in 1965, is a Cree artist widely known for his provocative interventions into Western European and American art history. He explores themes of colonization, sexuality, loss, and resilience—the complexities of historic and contemporary Indigenous experiences—across a variety of mediums, including painting, film, performance, and installation. Monkman's gender-fluid alter ego, Miss Chief Eagle Testickle, often appears in his work as a time-traveling, shape-shifting, supernatural being who reverses the colonial gaze to challenge received notions of history and Indigenous peoples.
The images themselves are outstanding as workmanship. Before you get to the iconography. The color, the vibrancy, the voice of "the other" in the American biography. Here "the other" is a Canadian Native American, and his images are of Natives saving new settlers.
And while the eye is at first drawn to the odd Native American in semi-nude drag, they are* merely the hook. Once you wade into the detail and the idea of the Native Americans welcoming others to the shore, you are overwhelmed.
I totally understand that the images are hooked by the odd. But the beauty of the piece comes through like a freight train in person.
And the detail!
Look at this section I blew up. This is from my phone, so imagine how much more beautiful in person.
Stunning. And that was before I even entered the galleries.
I told you I missed getting out.
* When using "they" as a gender-free second person singular, is it "they is" or "they are"? Serious question. I know it is "he is" and "she is" but I am unclear on the "they" verb.