Featuring 10 works by contemporary Native American artists, this exhibition underscores the richness and diversity of the contemporary Indigenous experience told through the medium of printmaking.

The works—nine prints and one printed-paper woven basket—are linked by the belief that words have immeasurable power, particularly when reckoning with how written language has been weaponized against Indigenous people throughout the history of the Americas.

Words Matter introduces several contemporary Native American artists who have worked in the medium of printmaking, including Shan Goshorn (Cherokee), Rick Bartow (Wiyot), Demian Diné Yazhi (Diné/Navajo), Marie Watt (Seneca), Larry McNeil (Tlingit), and others. All artists represented in the exhibition have chosen to incorporate text into their images, using the language of the colonizers of their land to tell their own stories. In this way, words play a powerful role in reclaiming a lost history and adding to the incomplete American narrative. In doing so, they also offer messages of hope, humor, and resilience.

Words Matter is curated by Dr. Johanna Minich, Assistant Curator of Native American Art.

Accompanying the Words Matter print exhibition is a display of Indigenous comic book artists, writers, and illustrators titled Untold History. To learn more about both exhibitions please see the Words Matter & Untold History story.


IMAGES Native Epistemology (detail), 2004, Larry McNeil (Tlingit, born 1955), lithograph. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Funds provided by Margaret A. and C. Boyd Clarke and Aldine S. Hartman Endowment Fund, 2020.153; Shrouded in Grey (detail), 2015, Shan Goshorn (Cherokee, 1957-2018), arches paper, ink, artificial sinew, copper. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Funds provided by Margaret A. and C. Boyd Clarke and Mareke Schiller, 2021.192