The Buffalo in the American Living Room

October 3, 2017 - January 13, 2018

Fritz Scholder (Luiseño / European, 1937 – 2005), was one of the 20th century’s most important and provocative artists. His abstracted figural style, iconoclastic imagery, and complicated legacy have influenced the work of several contemporary Northern Plains Native American artists, many of whom resist simple categorization, defy expectation, and navigate the duality of being Indigenous and a contemporary American artist. The Buffalo in the American Living Room: Fritz Scholder and Contemporary Native Art shares the work of Scholder along with several contemporary Native American artists. These artists’ humor, exploration of identity, and subversive subject matter channel Scholder’s radical spirit.

Born in Breckenridge, Minnesota in 1937, Fritz Scholder spent his early years living in Wahpeton, North Dakota, where his father worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. In 1950, Scholder‘s family relocated to Pierre, South Dakota, where Fritz’s high school art teacher was renowned Yanktonai Dakota artist Oscar Howe. He then moved to Sacramento, California with his family and he studied with Pop artist Wayne Thiebaud while earning an associate’s degree from Sacramento City College and a BA from Sacramento State College. He went on to receive an MFA from the University of Arizona and taught painting and contemporary art at the newly formed Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe from 1964-69. While teaching at IAIA, Scholder began painting his “Indian series,” declaring he wanted to “paint the Indian real, not red.” This series would propel the artist into international fame, and his celebrity would grow throughout the 1970s. He moved to New York City in the 1980s and continued to work as an artist for the remainder of his life.

Scholder’s career spanned five decades, and he was the recipient of five honorary degrees and numerous awards. Throughout this career, Fritz Scholder subverted and reimagined mainstream depictions of Native Americans, helping lay the groundwork for future artistic innovations.

  • Fritz Scholder, Indian Monster Chief (detail), 1972, Acrylic on canvas, On loan from Jo and Birch Burdick
  • Keith BraveHeart, To Clean the Buffalo, 2013, Acrylic on board
  • Jaune Quick-To-See Smith, Keeping America Green, 2003, Photolithograph

Ongoing Exhibitions

City Geode

Ongoing
City Geode
S.P.A.C.E. Sculpture

City Geode, created and installed in May 2019 by students and Professor Josh Zeis from NDSU is the latest creation. In response to the work, the lead artists said, “What is a city? This City Geode incorporates many of the things that we thought a city needs; buildings, streets, electricity, drainage, and above all else, the human spirit.

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Bee in Flight

Ongoing
Bee in Flight

Community artist and school art teacher MeLissa Kossick, who guides youth classes at the Museum on art, gardens, and pollinators, has created an enchanting mosaic design in the Creativity Pathway in the Serkland Gallery called Bee in Flight.

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The North Dakota Mural

Ongoing
The North Dakota Mural

Drawing on his childhood memories of the Great Plains, he created a work that speaks to the wide open spaces, huge vistas, and ocean-like skies of the region.

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Fragile Preservation

Ongoing
Fragile Preservation
A Tallgrass Community

While the Tallgrass Prairie is a community made up of a great diversity of species, Fragile Preservation represents a selection of them.

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