So yes, I went today, after dodging the crew for Salt (I did not see Angelina Jolie or really, much of anything other than a bunch of box trucks parked along Independence Avenue).
It’s a small exhibit but it’s pretty rich for what it is. I was surprised by the depth of it and found lots to delight in. Even though there’s not a lot to it, every piece contributes to the overall theme and I thought that was pretty cool. I think it’s a rare exhibit were I find every single piece to be interesting, and that was definitely the case here.
I loved Eva Mirabal‘s story — she enlisted during World War II and drew a comic strip called “G.I. Gertie.” I don’t remember reading about her before, although I’d be kind of surprised if she wasn’t in Trina Robbins’ A Century of Women Cartoonists.
Marcus Amerman‘s work combines traditional Native American beadwork with pop culture. I absolutely adored it. I used to do some beading so I’m quite in awe of his Wonder Woman bracelet. I like his sense of fun in merging the old with the new.
While they’re not specifically comic artists, both Jolene Yazzie and Rose Simpson do take their inspiration from a lot of comic book art (especially post-superhero stuff). Both young artists have a lot of potential and I was intrigued by their work. I’m going to watch for more of them in the future.
The exhibit also touches on the stereotypical portrayal of native Americans in comic books. Some artists took these sorts of images and re-drew them and re-interpreted them in their own ways. I’d like to think things have improved, but it’s hard to say.
I believe this exhibit is traveling and it’s definitely worth seeing if it comes near you. It’s one of the cooler comic book-related exhibits I’ve been to.
(The rest of the National Museum of the American Indian is fine — I’m sure there’s a lot of stuff there to see. But the layout is kind of poor — it seemed like mostly gift shops. The space is beautiful and it’s a fun building to walk around in, but it does seem like they made the building first and then added in the exhibits as an afterthought. That’s disappointing. I’ve seen a lot of wonderful exhibits on American Indian culture on trips to New Mexico so I know what there is to see. I just wish this museum was better at showcasing what they have.)