Waterman artist showcase planned for Seneca museum

Seneca artist Carson Waterman at work on one of his countless Haudenosaunee projects over the years. A career-spanning retrospective showcasing Waterman’s art opens May 27 at the Seneca-Iroquois National Museum in the Onohsagwe:de’ Cultural Center.

SALAMANCA — The Seneca-Iroquois National Museum will host a career-spanning retrospective showcase by distinguished Seneca artist Carson Waterman, opening in May.

The show, “Carson Waterman: A Retrospective,” will be a celebration of Waterman’s life, work and profound impact on the representation of Seneca identity and visual culture over the past several decades.

The exhibit will feature a wide selection of Waterman’s works, including output from his time as a student at the Cooper School of Art in Cleveland, harrowing sketches from his tour in Vietnam where he served as a combat artist and numerous examples of his painting that feature his iconic bold and colorful style, among dozens of other pieces.

“Carson’s contributions to the Seneca Nation and the representation of our people, culture and history can’t be overstated,” said Caleb Abrams, a Seneca-Iroquois National Museum board trustee. “Bringing together this collection of works, many of which have never been displayed publicly, has been a true labor of love for the planning committee and we can’t wait to share this incredible showcase with the public.”

Throughout his career, Waterman established himself as one of the premier visual artists of the Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois, whose territories span what is now known as New York state and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

His original works, which include paintings, murals, illustrations and more, have been displayed in numerous museums, galleries and cultural centers including the Institute of American Indian Art (Santa Fe, N.M.), Smithsonian Institution (Washington, D.C.), Trickster Cultural Center (Schaumburg, Ill.), Iroquois Museum (Howes Cave), and K Art (Buffalo), among many others.

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Public examples of his work are visible at the Allegany River Rest Area in Allegany, Buffalo Metro Rail and inside the Seneca Nation’s resorts and casinos. He has also been commissioned to create original works by various corporations and organizations including the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, Buffalo Sabres, Seneca Gaming Corporation and the city of Salamanca.

Waterman was also an influential force behind the establishment of the Seneca-Iroquois National Museum, which first opened in 1977 in Salamanca on the Seneca Nation’s Allegany Territory. In 2018, the museum relocated to the new Onohsagwe:de’ Cultural Center.

The museum has an extensive collection of Seneca and Haudenosaunee material culture items, historical artifacts and artwork, both permanent and rotating exhibits that change throughout the year and a state-of-the-art center gallery that hosts special exhibits. The museum is a popular destination for tourists, educational outings and those interested in history.

Educational programs, including lectures, cultural presentations, plays for children, concerts and other events can be held in the museum’s amphitheater, which can accommodate up to 600 people.

Adjacent to the amphitheater, there is a replica longhouse, the construction of which was completed in recent months. Longhouses are large wooden structures that traditionally served as family housing centers and ceremonial gathering places for the Haudenosaunee.

“Carson Waterman: A Retrospective” will open May 27 and run through April 2024. An official dedication ceremony for the new longhouse will coincide with the May 27 opening of the showcase. For more information, visit senecamuseum.org.


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