“Native Fashion Now” Biographies
Museum Director and Exhibition Curators
Kevin Gover is the director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and a citizen of the Pawnee Tribe of Oklahoma. Since he began as director in 2007, the museum has opened several critically acclaimed exhibitions, including “Fritz Scholder: Indian/Not Indian,” the largest retrospective ever of the seminal 20th-century modern painter and sculptor; “Brian Jungen: Strange Comfort,” a major exhibition of the prominent Canadian artist (Dunne-za First Nations/Swiss-Canadian); “Infinity of Nations: Art and History in the Collections of the National Museum of the American Indian,” a spectacular permanent exhibition of 700 works in October 2010; and “A Song for the Horse Nation,” a treasure trove of stunning objects presenting the epic story of the horse’s influence on American Indian tribes.
Under Gover’s leadership, the museum’s collections search launched online to provide digital access to the museum’s objects and photographs, and the imagiNATIONS Activity Center opened in June 2012, providing a dynamic space for young visitors.
Gover was the assistant secretary for Indian Affairs in the U.S. Department of the Interior from 1997 to 2000 under President Bill Clinton, where he won praise for his efforts to rebuild long-neglected Indian schools and expand tribal and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) police forces throughout the country. His tenure as assistant secretary is perhaps best known for his apology to Native American people for the historical conduct of the BIA.
Upon leaving office, Gover practiced law at Steptoe & Johnson LLP in Washington. In 2003, he joined the faculty at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University and served on the faculty of the university’s Indian Legal Program, one of the largest such programs in the country.
Gover received his bachelor’s degree in public and international affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University and his juris doctor degree from New Mexico’s College of Law. He was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree from Princeton University in 2001.
Karen Kramer’s long-standing commitment to innovative approaches to indigenous art and culture and her broad experiences working with Native artists, scholars, communities and other stakeholders help shape the Peabody Essex Museum’s (PEM) ambitious program in Native American and Oceanic art and culture, including the growth of its collection, its sensitive presentation and its ongoing interpretation and preservation. For the past 20 years, Kramer helped produce 10 major exhibitions on Native American art and culture at PEM. More recently, she curated “Native Fashion Now,” a nationally traveling, groundbreaking exhibition celebrating contemporary Native American fashion from the 1950s to today, and the paradigm-shifting “Shapeshifting: Transformations in Native American Art,” which dismantled stereotypes and explored concepts of change, worldview and politics in historical and contemporary Native art.
Kramer directs PEM’s innovative Native American Fellowship program, which provides training for rising Native American leaders in the museum, cultural and academic sectors. Kramer served as president, vice president and as a board member for the Native American Art Studies Association from 2003 to 2015. She worked on three inaugural exhibitions at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and for National NAGPRA. She earned her Master of Arts in anthropology from George Washington University and her Bachelor of Arts in anthropology from the University of Denver.
Kathleen Ash-Milby is an associate curator at the National Museum of the American Indian, George Gustav Heye Center and organizer of the New York presentation of “Native Fashion Now.” She has organized numerous contemporary art exhibitions at the museum, including “Kay WalkingStick: An American Artist” (2015) with co-curator David Penney, “Glittering World: Navajo Jewelry of the Yazzie Family” (2014) as curatorial liaison, “C. Maxx Stevens: House of Memory” (2012) and “Off the Map: Landscape in the Native Imagination” (2007). She was the co-curator of the “SITElines Biennial: much wider than a line,” at SITE Santa Fe (2016); “Mind (the) Gap: International Indigenous Art in Motion,” Samstag Museum of Art, University of South Australia (2011); and “Edgar Heap of Birds: Most Serene Republics,” a public-art installation and collateral project for the 52nd International Art Exhibition/Venice Biennale (2007).
Ash-Milby is a recipient of two Secretary of the Smithsonian’s Excellence in Research Awards for her exhibition and publication HIDE: Skin as Material and Metaphor (2010) in 2011 and for the publication Kay WalkingStick: An American Artist in 2016. She was a fellow in the 2015 Center for Curatorial Leadership Program in New York. Ash-Milby served on the boards of the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective (2007–2012), the American Indian Community House (2005–2007) and was the president of the Native American Art Studies Association (2011– 2015). She was the curator and co-director of the American Indian Community House Gallery in New York City from 2000 to 2005.
A member of the Navajo Nation, she earned her Master of Arts from the University of New Mexico in Native American art history.
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