Art helps people to see not just a particular piece of art but to see the world about you with fresh eyes. The best of art opens our eyes to see beauty even in things we scarcely noticed previously. Where we saw disorder and little visual stimulus, we now have a new perception. The art may be abstract, it might be an assemblage of objects that individually are banal, but through a new juxtaposition our mind perceives an order, a meaning greater than the parts.
Of course, a masterpiece of any kind may move us to tears and fill us with awe. I’ve had that experience when I wasn’t anticipating it, as when a Rodin sculpture in the Tate Museum suddenly—and unexpectedly—moved me to tears. - G. Peter Jemison
The illustrious career of G. Peter Jemison (Seneca, Heron Clan) spans decades across a wide swath of diverse accomplishments with an immeasurable worldwide impact. Through his art, Jemison has explored a variety of topics, from creating political works that portray contemporary social commentary to those that reflect his relationship with the natural world.
Widely shown and collected, Jemison’s works are rooted in the framework of Native American art. Known for his naturalistic paintings and series of works done on brown paper bags, his art embodies orenda, the traditional Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) belief that every living thing and every part of creation contains a spiritual force. His paintings, videos, and mixed media works have been exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions in the U.S., the U.K. and Germany. He is also an esteemed administrator, curator, editor, and writer. In 2004, he was elected Board Member at Large of the American Alliance of Museums (formerly the Association of Museums), and was the founding director of the American Indian Community House Gallery in New York City.
From November 2017 through early 2018, Jemison’s works were featured in Unholding, a group exhibition at the Artists Space in New York City. During that time he also was featured in related discussion programs at the venue. The exhibit received praise in reviews from The New Yorker, The New York Times, Artforum, and other art media.
In 2017, he curated The Elegant Eye: Contemporary Haudenosaunee Beadwork at Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, NY. Artists included Mary Clause (Mohawk), Samantha Jacobs (Seneca), Grant Jonathan (Tuscarora), and Sam Thomas (Cayuga). The same year, he was featured in the publication No Reservation: New York Contemporary Native American Art Movement by David Martine, edited by Jenifer Tromski with forward by Dore Ashton.
Jemison’s works are included in such significant collections as The Heard Museum, Phoenix; The Institute of American Indian Arts Museum, Santa Fe; The Denver Art Museum, Denver; The British Museum, London, UK; and the Museum der Weltkultern, Frankfurt, Germany. Jemison was one of six winners of the prestigious 2012 Jennifer Easton Community Spirit Award fellowship from the First Peoples Fund in Rapid City, SD for his accomplishments in Fine Art Painting, Mixed Media.
In 2013, Jemison’s works were exhibited in The Old Becomes the New: New York Contemporary Native American Art Movement and the New York School at New York City’s Wilmer Jennings Gallery at Kenkeleba.
Jemison served as the producer, catalyst and inspiration for the multi-award winning Iroquois Creation Story film, a 2015 collaboration among Friends of Ganondagan, Garth Fagan Dance, and the Rochester Institute of Technology School of Film and Animation. The film shows in the Orientation Theater of the Seneca Art & Culture Center at Ganondagan.
His films have been screened at the Native American Film + Video Festival at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York City. Jemison and his son Brenden created a short film explaining the 1613 treaty between the Haudenosaunee and the Dutch. The film moves between a re-creation of the exchange and a discussion of the present day meaning of the treaty terms commemorated in a wampum belt known as “Guswenta” or “Two Row” in English. (click here to view the film)
Jemison received his academic arts education from the University of Siena in Siena, Italy, before earning a B.S. in Arts Education from Buffalo State College as well as an Honorary Doctorate.
A leading authority on the subject of Haudenosaunee history, Jemison co-edited the Treaty of Canandaigua 1794: 200 Years of Treaty Relations between the Iroquois Confederacy and the United States (Clear Light). He frequently contributes writings on the repatriation of sacred objects, cultural patrimony, and the human remains of the Haudenosaunee.
After thirty-eight years, Jemison retired after serving as the Historic Site Manager of Ganondagan State Historic Site, the location of a 17th-century Seneca town in Victor, NY, identified as a National Historic Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Additionally, he is the representative for the Seneca Nation of Indians on the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) as well as an Indian Tribe/Native Hawaiian Representative of the Federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP).
Jemison will be featured in the Focus section of the 2023 Armory Show, which is being curated by Candice Hopkins.
He was also featured in the Fall 2023 Art in America magazine.