Brad Kahlhamer: A Nation of One

June 20 – August 25, 2019

Brad Kahlhamer’s (b. 1956 Tucson, AZ) art lives at the crossroads of real and imaginary worlds. Born to native parents and adopted by a German-American family, he was raised in Arizona and Wisconsin and spent his early adulthood as a musician living on the road before settling in New York City. Shaped by this nomadic history, Kahlhamer’s work explores the particularities of the American landscape: the desert ecology of the Southwest, the parks and waterways of the upper Midwest, and the gritty streets of the urban Northeast—often fusing references to multiple regions within a single work of art.  Similarly, Kahlhamer draws from a broad array of artistic sources, from Native American aesthetics and Abstract Expressionism, to graffiti and popular culture. Even his references to Native culture cut across tribal traditions, as Kahlhamer views himself and his art as “tribally ambiguous.” Kahlhamer’s art explores notions of cultural hybridity and the experience of navigating multiple communities, as well as the representation and appropriation of Native culture. His art speaks to the tourist trade for Native American objects like dream-catchers and katsina dolls, challenging us to see-anew these symbols that have become so common place and easily recognizable, yet detached from their original context and meaning.

With his art, Kahlhamer builds (what he calls) a “third place” between his two points of cultural heritage, a world of his own creation infused with myth and fantasy where all his passions intersect. Yet as the title of this exhibition, A Nation of One, suggests, this “third place” can be both a space of singularity and isolation, and a space of unity, where different segments of the American story come together.

Kahlhamer lives and works in New York City and Mesa, Arizona. His work has been included in national and international group exhibitions, at institutions including the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, the Aspen Art Museum, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (Kansas City), and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York). His work has recently been shown in solo exhibitions at the Joslyn Museum, Omaha; Zidoun-Bossuyt Gallery, Luxembourg; Jack Shainman Gallery, New York; Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut; and Andréhn-Schiptjenko Gallery, Stockholm, Sweden.

Exhibition-related programs and tours:
Public programs and tours are on-site at the M unless otherwise noted.

Preview Party: A Nation of One
Wed., June 19, 5 – 8 p.m. | Remarks at 6:30
$10 for M members * $20 for non-members (includes admission + a membership to the M!)
Get an early look at our ambitious survey exhibition of Kahlhamer’s work, his first in the Upper Midwest! Your ticket includes a free drink, small bites by Crave, and live music by DJ Mickey Breeze.

Conversation: Kahlhamer and Mining the Museum
Sat., July 27, 2 p.m.

This event is free, but registration is requested. RSVP online.
Join Jill Ahlberg Yohe, Associate Curator at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Laura Youngbird, Director of Native American Programs at the Plains Art Museum, and Kristin Makholm, Executive Director of the M, for a conversation about how Native American collections and visual culture find a new resonance in the artwork of Brad Kahlhamer.

Conversation: Post-Smithsonian Delinquent: podcast & discussion by Melissa Olson
Thurs., Aug. 15, 6 p.m.
This event is free, but registration is requested. RSVP online.
After a presentation of audio-documentarian Melissa Olson’s new podcast, visitors will join Olson and journalist and co-producer Ryan Dawes in a conversation about transracial adoption and cultural representation in Brad Kahlhamer’s multifaceted work.

Lecture: Art in Context
Sun., July 14, 2 p.m.
This event is free, but registration is requested. RSVP online.
Learn about the Native American art in the M’s collection from Executive Director Kristin Makholm. This event is in conjunction with the exhibition Brad Kahlhamer: A Nation of One.

Free and open to the public
Dig deeper into what’s on view in the galleries in tours led by the M’s curatorial team.

Sun., June 23, 2 p.m.
Thurs., July 18, 6 p.m.
Sun., Aug. 18, 2 p.m.

Sat., July 20, 1 p.m.

Free, but registration is required * Limited to 15 people * RSVP online.
Join describer Laura Wiebers and an M teaching artist for a gallery tour and sensory engagement designed for all, with particular focus given to individuals who are blind or have low vision. The descriptive tour of A Nation of One will be followed by light refreshments and a tactile exploration of materials relating to the artist’s practice in the museum’s Center for Creativity. Verbal description uses nonvisual language to convey the visual world and while it is a navigational guide for people with no or low vision, it’s a way for anyone to gain a fresh perspective on their surroundings.

Every Fri. & Sat. at noon
Free and open to the public
Bite-sized 10- to 15-minute chats about the exhibitions, offered twice each week by M volunteers.

WIDE OPEN STUDIO: Gordon Coons and Maggie Thompson

June – August in the Center for Creativity
The M’s summer artist-designed project for the Wide Open Studio is created by artists Gordon Coons and Maggie Thompson.

ASL interpretation is available for some tours.