Spanning 3,000 miles and completed over four generations, the monarch butterfly’s journey across the United States, Mexico and Canada lends itself as a metaphor for the experience of indigenous communities, the geographic and artificial boundaries placed in their paths and the legacy created from their journeys.

The artists featured in Monarchs: Brown and Native Contemporary Artists in the Path of the Butterfly at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts draw from inherited knowledge and cultural memory to explore concepts shaped by their ancestral heritage and life in the path of the monarch.

Prompted by curator-in-residence Risa Puleo, the exhibition, which opens Dec. 7 focuses on three themes 1) Migration-the ways that people reside and move across boundaries, bringing aesthetics and artifacts along, 2) Inheritance-legacies that are created through experience and knowledge passed over time, and 3) Transformation-the change of appearance.

Thirty-six artists bring installations, performance, textiles, prints and more to this rich and thoughtful exhibit.

Monarchs: Brown and Native Contemporary Artists in the Path of the Butterfly opens with a reception Thursday, December 7, 5-9pm and runs through February 24 at Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, 724 S. 12th Street. For more information contact

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