Marquee: Cara Romero (Native American (Chemehuevi), born 1977). Water Memory (detail), 2021. Photograph, Framed: 41 × 41 in. (104.1 × 104.1 cm).
Exhibition Dates: June 23, 2022–April 2, 2023
Exhibition Location: The Met Fifth Avenue, Gallery 746 North, The Erving and Joyce Wolf Gallery, The American Wing
Water is the most intimate of all natural resources, and across the world water conservation is a timely and urgent subject. Opening in the American Wing at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on June 23, 2022, the exhibition Water Memories explores the significance of water to Indigenous peoples and Nations in the United States through 41 historical, modern, and contemporary artworks drawn from The Met collection, as well as promised gifts and loans.
Organized in four thematic sections—Ancestral Connections, Water and Sky, Forests and Streams, and Oceanic Imaginations—the diverse aquatic expressions imbued in the works on view feature both representational and abstract approaches. Works by contemporary Native American artists Tom Jones, Courtney Leonard, Truman Lowe, Cannupa Hanska Luger, Cara Romero, and Fritz Scholder are placed in dialogue with historical works from The Met collection.
The variety of works on view in Water Memories—protest fashion, hand-carved children’s toys, glass lamps, oil paintings, photographs, and video—create a current of memories belonging to Native American and non-Native artists. The exhibition also foregrounds Indigenous voices through individual interpretations of community members and their personal associations with water. The works collectively reveal how—across time and place—water provides nourishment, sanctuary, and healing while also activating protest, conflict, and complex dialogue.
Water Memories is curated by Patricia Marroquin Norby (Purépecha), Associate Curator of Native American Art in The Met’s American Wing.
The exhibition is featured on the Museum’s website, as well as on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.