Gina Adams I  Maajiigin wa’aw akiing miinawaa (Begin This World Again) I Merritt Johnson  I Recent Work I + work by Erica Lord

Accola Griefen Fine Art at Living Trust for the Arts - FOR INTERACTIVE VIRTUAL TOUR:

March 5 - June 15, 2020

 Accola Griefen is pleased to present a solo exhibit by Gina Adams, paintings and sculptures by Merritt Johnson and a recent work by Erica Lord at the Living Trust for the Arts in SoHo.

Gina Adams’ newest body of work, Maajiigin waaw akiing miinawaa, envisions future generations as “the way the world begins again and again” (June Jordan). As a descendent of both Indigenous and colonial Americans, Adams draws upon her ancestors’ experiences in assimilation boarding schools for this new series of child size, antique quilts. These works extend from her now iconic Broken Treaty Quilt Series, which are also on view. Adams’ cross-media practice includes ceramics in the form of the basketball in her Honoring Modern Series which addresses the role of basketball as a popular sport in the notorious boarding schools. In these pieces Adams, cross references how forced assimilation intersects with the damage done by resource extraction. Also realized in porcelain, the Ancestor Medallion Series are life-sized relief portraits picturing the artist’s Ojibwa ancestors. They are based on photographs Adams’ found in the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. In addition are earlier works on paper from The Lace Bead Heritage Series, which are also based on archival research and resulted from Adams’ relearning of her Ojibwa language. The forms evoke beadwork, lacework, quillwork and birch bark biting. For the artist the work is “an act of taking something back. Of rewriting history.”

Adams has exhibited widely in the United States and abroad. She is included in private and public collections including The Boston Museum of Fine Arts, The Peabody Essex Museum, The Hood Museum, The Asheville Art Museum, Emprise Bank, Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Spencer Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, and North American Native Museum, Zurich, Switzerland.  In recent years Adams has been featured in publications including The New Yorker, Hyperallergic, The New York Times, Huffington Post and Art Newspaper among others. Adams spent her youth in the San Francisco Bay area, and her early adult years in Maine. Her formal education includes a BFA from the Maine College of Art and MFA from the University of Kansas. She isn currently a professor at Emily Carr University of Art & Design in Vancouver, British Columbia. 


In an adjoining space paintings by Merritt Johnson depict the persistence of land and water. Johnson writes: “The land does not belong to us…we exist because of land and water’s ability and choice to sustain us.” Similarly, Johnson’s sculptures speak to healing from and resistance to the continuing violence towards Indigenous peoples, animals and the land. The artist weaves her sculptures in materials that include palm fiber, wood, deerskin, synthetic sinew and wampum. Border Wampum is formed around a pair of bolt cutters suggesting the impermanence of “man-made” borders. Forest and Seed Basket for Present and Future Understanding takes the form of a portable oxygen tank and mask woven from Black Ash, which addresses the failing health of the once abundant ash tree. This sculpture and the Seed Basket Series (taking the form of handheld grenades filled with corn seeds) remind us of our dependence on plant life for clean food and air, and are symbols for the potential of future regeneration.

Johnson was born in West Baltimore and her work is rooted in her experience as a cis-gender pansexual woman of mixed (non-status) Mohawk, Blackfoot and Settler descent. She earned her BFA from Carnegie Mellon University and her MFA from Massachusetts College of Art. In 2018 Johnson was included in the 1st Burke Prize exhibition at the Museum of Art and Design in New York CityJohnson’s work is in many public and private collections including The Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, AL and The Museum of Contemporary Native Arts. Johnson lives and works in Sitka, Alaska.


Erica Lord exhibits Breast Cancer Burden Strap DNA MicroArray Analysis, a new work from an ongoing series of beaded sculptures. The strands of colored beads mimic the microarray of DNA strands derived from testing that assesses genetic predispositions. Like earlier bodies of work, this sculpture addresses the government-mandated blood qualifications of Indigeneity which are in opposition to her own mixed race identification. Lord writes “My experience may be multiple or mixed, but I am not incomplete in any location.” Lord is Finnish-American, Iñupiaq and Athabascan. Her personal experience of perpetually moving between various geographic locations inspires her interest in themes of displacement and cultural identity. Lord received a BA from Carleton College and completed her MFA at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her work is in many public and private collections including The National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution; The Museum of Contemporary Native Arts and Musée des Confluences in Lyon, France among others. Lord lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico and is a faculty member at the Institute of American Indian Arts.