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Eiteljorg Museum opens exhibit showcasing diverse religious influences

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The New York Historical Society is organizing a major new art exhibition that will open at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art on April 20 and run through August 4.

The exhibition explores how diverse faiths have shaped the cultures of the American West and how the West has impacted people’s beliefs.

“In the ‘Acts of Faith’ exhibition, visitors can see the beauty, heartbreak, triumph and struggle of a range of religious expressions and experiences throughout the American West,” said Jessica Nelson, guest curator and former director of Eiteljorg’s religion and cultural initiatives.

Robert Walter Weir (1803–1889) 
Sagoyewatha, or “Red Jacket” (ca. 1758–1830), 1828 
Oil on canvas, reproduction 
New-York Historical Society, Gift of Winthrop Chanler, 1893.1

The exhibit explores many of the religious beliefs and spiritual practices of the people who lived in or moved to the American West, focusing on a 200-year period that connects to the present.

Through artwork, artifacts and panels that show historic sites and scenes, “Acts of Faith” weaves together a wide variety of stories including Native American religious movements, protestant missionaries, Catholic Communities, formerly enslaved African American migrants who started new lives in the West and Chinese immigrants honoring their ancestral religious practices.

The Eiteljorg Musem and the New-York Historical Society are both contributing works and collections to the exhibition that show the effect diverse religious beliefs had on the West and how those beliefs have been maintained and adapted from the 19th century to today.

Rupy C. Tut (American, born in Punjab, India, 1985)
Cooking the same, only talk different, 2024
Handmade pigments and shell silver on hemp paper
Eiteljorg Museum purchase with funds provided by a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.
2024.1.1

“For many people, religion or spirituality is an essential element for creating community and establishing a sense of home for themselves. These deeply held beliefs can foster both inclusion and exclusion. ‘Acts of Faith offers a mosaic of artwork and stories from different perspectives to help us understand how all these experiences are entangled with each other – and together form a larger story about the American West,” Nelson said.

The exhibition is featured in the museum’s special gallery and is included in regular Eiteljorg Musem admission. Tickets start at $12 for youth, $16 for seniors and $20 for adults; members receive free admission. To find more information on “Acts of Faith” and purchase tickets, visit eiteljorg.org.

Contact Racial Justice Reporter Garrett Simms at 317-762-7847.

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