Press Releases

Date of Release: 
Thursday, December 8, 2016
Contact Info: 

Erika Monroe-Kane, Director of Communications
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2016 Wisconsin Triennial Artist Sky Hopinka Selected for the 2017 Whitney Biennial

2016 Wisconsin Triennial Artist Sky Hopinka Selected for the 2017 Whitney Biennial

 MADISON, WI—The Whitney Museum of American Art recently announced the artists selected for inclusion in their 2017 Biennial, a leading exhibition of contemporary American art and among the most influential exhibitions globally. Sky Hopinka, a Milwaukee-based artist who has two video works on view as part of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art’s 2016 Wisconsin Triennial, was among the 63 artists chosen by the Whitney. The Biennial will feature Hopinka’s video titled “Visions of an Island,” a new work that captures an Unangam Tunuu elder’s poetic narrative of St. Paul Island in the Bering Sea.

“We were excited to include Sky’s work in the Wisconsin Triennial and are pleased his art is receiving increased recognition through the Whitney Biennial,” stated Stephen Fleischman, MMoCA director. “His work is deserving of an international audience.”

The Whitney Biennial is a marker of the state of art in America today, featuring emerging as well as established artists from around the country. This year’s exhibition revolves around themes of personal identity, social struggle, and connection to place. As evidenced by Hopinka’s videos featured in the 2016 Wisconsin Triennial, his art clearly embodies these ideas.

“The inclusion of my work in the Triennial has been great and it's such an honor to be showing my work in Madison, in Wisconsin, and on traditional Ho-Chunk homelands,” stated Sky Hopinka. “To now be a part of the Whitney Biennial is really amazing.  Being amongst these artists and filmmakers that I admire so much is truly humbling.”

Hopinka is a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin and a descendent of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, an identity he weaves into his video work through a dense layering of moving image, text, and sound. Hopinka draws on his interest in indigenous linguistic concepts to explore representations of personal and collective memory, and narratives of tribal history, homeland, and heritage. In one of his videos on display at MMoCA, Jáaji Approx., the artist merges audio recordings of his father recalling stories and singing songs, both new and traditional, with footage of landscapes both men have separately traveled, to create a powerful video that obliquely expresses his connection to his father.

As the Wisconsin Triennial comes to a close in January, the Whitney Biennial opens its doors in March, giving Hopinka continued attention and wider audience. Visitors are encouraged to experience this spellbinding work at MMoCA before the exhibition closes. Hopinka’s art offers an intimate and moving exploration of identity and heritage as expressed through the intersection of language, image, and landscape, and is deserving of this major recognition.

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