This multisensory exhibition presents the motives behind Native American dance and highlights the museum’s annual Friendship Powwow and American Indian Cultural Celebration. It features about 86 works, including 78 drawn from the DAM’s American Indian art collection.
In addition to historic works, the exhibition showcases contemporary dance regalia from the regional Native American community. Paintings and drawings illustrate specific Native dances such as animal dances, healing dances, and rites of passage primarily found in the Plains region and the American Southwest. Included in the exhibition are large-scale, dance-themed paintings from the 1939 San Francisco World’s Fair by Charles Loloma, Jose Duran, and Ignacio Moquino.
Visitors also are invited into a dancing circle through Mohawk artist Alan Michelson's RoundDance video art installation, allowing them to join in on a form of dance used as social protest over tribal sovereignty issues.
Why We Dance is curated by Nancy Blomberg, chief curator and curator of Native arts at the DAM, as well as John Lukavic, associate curator of Native arts, and guest curator Russ Tallchief.
Local exhibition support is provided by the Osage Nation Foundation.