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SITE SANTA FE receives prestigious grant for Dakota Mace exhibition

By Medicine Man Gallery on


Dakota Mace, Tséyi (Among the Canyons). Archival Giclée Print, Glass Beadwork 30” x 42” (Framed) 2023

Dakota Mace, Tséyi (Among the Canyons). Archival Giclée Print, Glass Beadwork 30” x 42” (Framed) 2023 | Photo courtesy of the artist

SITE SANTA FE has received one of the most prestigious grants awarded annually to an American museum in support of contemporary art and will use the money to present an exhibition for Diné artist Dakota Mace in 2025. The Ellsworth Kelly Award, administered by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, is a $45,000 invitation-only grant to support a solo exhibition of a contemporary visual artist at a U.S. art museum, university, or college art gallery.

Although the award is given to the exhibiting institution, the Ellsworth Kelly Award is made to create an opportunity for a solo exhibition of the work of an emerging, mid-career, or under-recognized artist. The recipient institution is selected based on the perceived strength of the proposed artist's work and the impact the exhibition might have on his or her career.

Ellsworth Kelly (1923-2015) is regarded as one of American art’s most important abstract painters, sculptors and printmakers. He is most closely associated with the “Hard Edge” style of painting, a style he helped create.

Kelly recognized that a museum exhibition can be transformative for an artist's career and this award is intended to provide that opportunity to artists. The Ellsworth Kelly Foundation endows this award in memory of the artist.

SITE SANTA FE’s proposal was selected for support by FCA’s Board of Directors which includes superstar contemporary artist Cecily Brown and Jasper Johns who may be the world’s most famous living artist.

“The Ellsworth Kelly Award marks a pivotal moment in Mace's career,” Brandee Caoba, Curator, SITE SANTA FE, said. “It provides a platform for her to garner national recognition for her contributions to contemporary art and expands perspectives and representation of contemporary Indigenous artists.”

SITE SANTA FE achieved a high spot in the representation of contemporary Indigenous artists in 2022 with its simultaneous presentation of shows for Nani Chacon (Diné) and Jeffrey Gibson (Mississippi Band of Choctaw and Cherokee). In late July 2023, Gibson was announced as the artist who will represent the United States at the 2024 Venice Biennale, arguably the single most prestigious honor any contemporary artist can receive.

Dakota Mace, Béésh Łigaii (Silver) series; 40 Chemigrams, 5x7 inch each. 2023

Dakota Mace, Béésh Łigaii (Silver) series; 40 Chemigrams, 5x7 inch each. 2023 | Photo courtesy of the artist

About Dakota Mace

Mace (b. 1991) is an interdisciplinary artist whose work explores family lineage, community, and identity with a particular focus on translating the language of Diné history and beliefs. With her unexpected and innovative approaches to photographic techniques, weaving, beadwork, and papermaking, Mace asks viewers to reconsider their understanding of Diné culture.

Mace received her MA and MFA degrees in Photography and Textile Design at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her BFA in Photography from the Institute of American Indian Arts.

For her exhibition, “DAHODIYINII – SACRED PLACES,” Mace will use crimson cochineal dye in suites of chemigraphs and archival photography prints that record Diné lands, people, and histories. Cochineal dye is made of cactus-residing insects that are native to Diné land and the Southwest United States. This naturally occurring dye has long been used in North and South America to dye textiles. Across her body of work, Mace centers land-based materials as an integral part of her interaction with the land’s sacred places, people, and stories.

Mace’s exhibit will bring together over 2,000 newly commissioned cochineal chemigraphs and archival photographic prints displayed throughout the main galleries in SITE SANTA FE. The images will be accompanied by site specific installations of video, audio, and performance that document Mace’s interactions with the land, materials, and people during her creative process.

“Dakota Mace's powerful visual language sheds light on the complexities of Indigenous histories and positions land and body as an archive of memory and narrative. ‘DAHODIYINII – SACRED PLACES,’ centers on dialogue and connection to place,” Caoba said. “Through this work, Mace brings an unparalleled exploration of Diné history to the fore and records the stories of her peoples' struggles and their perseverance for rights to their land, natural resources, and autonomy.”

SITE SANTA FE. Photo by Mauricio RojasSITE SANTA FE | Photo by Mauricio Rojas


Founded in 1995 to establish the first international contemporary art biennial in the United States, SITE SANTA FE is a non-collecting art institution committed to supporting new developments in contemporary art, encouraging artistic exploration, and expanding traditional museum experiences.

Since its launch, SITE SANTA FE has presented 11 international biennials, more than 100 contemporary art exhibitions, and works by hundreds of emerging and established artists from around the world and in New Mexico.


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