Maria Hupfield’s playful, poetic approach to Decolonizing the Museum

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Maria Hupfield (born 1975) is a Canadian artist, working in Brooklyn, New York.[1] She is an Anishinaabe, specifically an Ojibwe and a member of the Wasauksing First Nation, located in Ontario, Canada.[2] Hupfield works in a variety of media, including video and performance. Her performance practice references Anishinaabeg oral history and feminist performance history.(wiki)

At this critical juncture, Maria Hupfield’s work is a much needed disruption, to hold institutions accountable and in doing so help them stay relevant.

Celebrating its 90th year of existence, the Heard Museum is celebrating not by looking at the past but looking towards the future through an initiative that focuses on women indigenous artists. Famous for its large collection of American Indian art, the museum has evolved from a mostly anthropological museum to one that endeavors to give voice to the contemporary Indigenous experience. As more museums are beginning to examine their own biased practices and adapt to the expectations of a changing political landscape, the colonial nature of museums cannot be overlooked. At this critical juncture, Maria Hupfield’s work is a much needed disruption, to hold institutions accountable and in doing so help them stay relevant.

Hupfield makes it unequivocal that all the objects in the exhibition are essential to her practice and not just to be appreciated from a distance. The audience cannot help but recognize everything else in the museum as intentional instruments to lives lived.

Editor’s note: Please note that physical viewing hours for this exhibition have been temporarily suspended in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Discussions around art and culture remain important during this time, so we have opted to publish this review to enable readers to explore the exhibition virtually as many of us continue to self-isolate.

Maria Hupfield: Nine Years Toward the Sun at the Heard Museum (2310 North Central Ave, Phoenix AZ) through May 3, 2020. The exhibition was curated by Erin Joyce.

Maria’s blog on wordpress: HERE

Source: Playful, Poetic Approaches to Decolonizing the Museum



Earlier in 2016

“When You Tell Someone You’re an Artist that Is Native, They Tell You Who You Should Be”

Wife and husband duo Maria Hupfield and Jason Lujan investigated that question while in residence for a month at Trestle Gallery‘s project space in Gowanus, Brooklyn, where they were invited by curator-in-residence Melissa Staiger.

Both artists maintain individual practices while working together as Native Art Department International, a collaborative project that focuses on the circulation of art in international contexts to function as, in their words, an “emancipation from identity-based artwork.” The results of their residency are on view in the Trestle Projects exhibition free play, a contrast in styles that nonetheless works to point out the plasticity of contemporary indigeneity and the failure of stereotypes to account for what Native Art should look like today.

The duo will continue the themes of their collaborations in Chez BKLYN, an exhibition highlighting the fluidity of individual and group dynamics of collective art practices, at Galleri SE Konst in Sweden, in August. Prior to that and to the closing of free play, we sat down to discuss how the two work together to challenge identity-based responses to indigenous artists.

Jason: We are both constantly negotiating how to create independent positions for ourselves as artists without falling into the crutch of identity politics or bland universalism (one facet of this is pan-American Indianism). It’s problematic to try to define Native America or the Indian experience, so we do our best to refuse being categorized in terms of discourses on identity politics and postcolonial studies.



I am posting this to show you creativity in the time of COVID-19. Make something. It’s really good for you… L/T


  1. I love it! Living in the Present is where all people belong! (A thought that might have stopped some of the dangerous “nostalgia” we see being used to make a lot of us irrelevant in our own times…just saying!)

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