Neal Ambrose-Smith, (Flathead Salish, Metis and Cree, Decendent of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Nation); received his MFA degree from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Neal is currently Department Chair at the Institute of American Indian and Alaska Native Culture in Santa Fe, New Mexico and previously taught at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA).
Working in the arts for twenty years, Ambrose-Smith has been a studio assistant; a goldsmith apprentice; a designer for an Albuquerque entertainment magazine; a freelance digital photographer for artists; a consultant for the Joan Mitchell Foundation as well as exhibiting his own artwork.
He has traveled extensively in the U.S., Mexico, Europe and did an independent study in Spain for a year. His work is in collections such as, Beach Museum, KS; Missoula Museum, MT; Galerie D’Art Contemporain, Chamalieres, France; Boise Art Museum, ID; New York Public Library Print Collection, NMAI/Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC,Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO, Contemporary Art Museum, Hong-ik University, Seoul, Korea, Cork Printmakers Special Collection, Cork, Ireland, Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, Indianapolis, IN, Monash University, Gippsland, Australia and Springfield Art Museum, Springfield, MO.
Below is an excerpt from the Missoula Art Museum’s exhibition:
č̓ č̓en̓ u kʷes xʷúyi (Where Are You Going?)
His work is typified by fluency in the mediums of printmaking, painting, drawing, sculpture and neon, as well as a fluency in the currency of our times-popular culture. Ambrose-Smith wears his humor on his sleeve, even as his heart is in his throat. He cares deeply about the present state of humanity and manifests this concern through these expressive artworks. Ambrose-Smith says, “As a nation, we face a reckoning as seen in the rise of anger, racism, hatred, destruction of the planet and illness. As human beings, we have to find a way to work together”.
Ambrose-Smith uses the metaphor of multiple realities to point out the fundamental problem with fixed solutions. A postmodern artist, Ambrose-Smith moves between mediums, and embodies the postmodern tenants of appropriation, juxtaposition, recontextualization, globalization and hybridity. His work mixes concepts of Indigenous identity and pop culture, with existential questions about contemporary society. He takes on large, complicated themes such as the arc of human existence, our interdependence with one another, and the future direction of the planet in an accessible, tongue-in-cheek way that connects to audiences.
I'd like to thank the great print assistants we had on this project: Jason Clark, Crystal McCallie, Allison Peschek, Dagny Walton & Whitney Gardipee.
This project is made possible with the generous support of the following: