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Overview

Hopi artist Victor Masayesva Jr.’s photographs and videos are often about the landscape and the place most related to his ancestry. When he photographed a barren patch of reservation land in somber black and white, as in Night and Day (1993), he was subverting the traditional aesthetic notion of the beautiful western landscape. Here he was concerned with the representation of Native American culture and its close connection to the land, and how the media and many photographers have customarily portrayed his own community. By focusing on a detail of the landscape, where beauty may be inferred in the soft, wavy reflection of a ghostly tree in water, Masayesva pushes this subject to the surface of his art. He refuses to allow a view of the horizon by painting the sky a deep, textured ultramarine blue, with collaged stars peeking through to the surface of the picture. The foreground, also made from pasted paper stars, creates an illusory window between the sky and the surface of the photograph through which to view his highly personal impression of the ancestral landscape. The stars also echo the blue field on the American flag, symbolizing the dominant colonial culture overlaying the land.

Inscription

on verso, signed by artist, bottom right in graphite: "Night + Day" Victor Masayesva / 7.93; by unknown hand, bottom center: VMC/049; by Corcoran Gallery of Art, vertical along bottom right corner: 2006.014.010

Provenance

Julia J. Norrell, Washington, DC; gift to the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, 2006; acquired by NGA, 2016.

Exhibition History
2004
Common Ground: Discovering Community in 150 Years of Art, Selections from the Collection of Julia J. Norrell, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, October 23, 2004 – January 31, 2005
Bibliography
2004
Brookman, Philip et al. Common Ground: Discovering Community in 150 Years of Art, Selections from the Collection of Julia J. Norrell. Exh. cat. Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, 2004: 25, 178, no. 108.
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