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Missoula exhibit features contemporary Native American artist

Four years of artistic work, three years of planning
Neal Ambrose-Smith's artistic work on display at Missoula Art Museum
Posted at 2:32 PM, Oct 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-30 16:32:09-04

MISSOULA — A new exhibit at the Missoula Art Museum features artist Neal Ambrose-Smith, descendent of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

With a dual title in Salish and English, č̓ č̓en̓ u kʷes xʷúyi (Where Are You Going?), invites people to reflect upon a visual adventure.

Reception for new exhibit by artist Neal Ambrose-Smith in Missoula

The MAM has a gallery dedicated to contemporary American Indian art.

“So with that dedicated focus in our collection, and also with the dedicated focus in our gallery, it's really an honor to be able to celebrate really exciting artists like Neil," MAM Senior Curator Brandon Reintjes told MTN News.

The exhibit is a result of four years of artistic work across mediums, and three years of planning at the museum.

“Most of it’s responsive to the environment,” Ambrose-Smith said explaining that the current political and cultural atmosphere in the U.S. drove his artistic inspiration for the exhibit.

The ideas are transposed through visual archetypes, symbols, and colors.

“I have this basically screaming rabbit, you know, just sort of how I was feeling about the situations because every time I've listened to the news or read something, it was mind-blowing to me," Ambrose-Smith said.

The art is meant to be viewed in multiple ways. Blacklights turned on and off show different imagery. 3D glasses also help create an alternative experience. And a large neon piece that the exhibition takes its name from, transforms in front of the eyes

But there is no expectation for understanding certain concepts within the art.

“It's a mirror, so whatever they see here is what they have within. And then they're going to form opinions and questions and that's the dialogue that I want to have because it's an opening to get into maybe a place for change or for understanding or for coalescence, you know like where we can get together and break bread," Ambrose Smith said.

The work of Ambrose-Smith will be on display at the Missoula Art Museum through February. Admission is free for operational hours Tuesday through Saturday.