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Press Release

Chris T Cornelius’s ukwé·tase (newcomer/stranger) MOWA installation explores the intersection of architectural design and Indigenous culture

Exhibition February 26, 2024

(WEST BEND, WISCONSIN) – Museum of Wisconsin Art proudly announces the unveiling of ukwé·tase (newcomer/stranger), a groundbreaking installation by Wisconsin-born designer and Oneida Nation citizen Chris T Cornelius. An architectural marvel that is simultaneously installation, sculpture, and architectural form, ukwé·tase will grace the museum’s contemporary gallery, inviting visitors to participate in a conversation about Indigenous history, ownership, and culture. The exhibition opens on March 13.

Titled in the Oneida language, ukwé·tase debuted at the 2023 Chicago Architectural Biennial with an accompanying land acknowledgement serving as a reminder to audiences that the building stands on what was once Indigenous land. ukwé·tase challenges viewers to confront notions of identity, belonging, and the complicated relationships between history and the built environment.

Cornelius, currently residing in New Mexico on the ancestral lands of the Pueblo, Tiwa, and Piro people, acknowledges that he too is a visitor: ukwé·tase underscores the notion that we are all strangers living somewhere on land with complex histories regarding ownership.

Born in Milwaukee and raised on the Oneida reservation in northern Wisconsin, Cornelius holds a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a Master of Architecture from the University of Virginia. He is the founding principal of studio:indigenous, a design practice serving Indigenous clients.

Cornelius’s work has garnered much acclaim, earning him awards including the Miller Prize at “Exhibit Columbus” in 2017 and the Architect’s Newspaper Best of Design Award in both 2018 and 2022. Additionally, he was honored with an artist residency at the National Museum of the American Indian in 2003. Currently serving as the chair of the Department of Architecture at the University of New Mexico, Cornelius continues to push boundaries by exploring the intersection of architectural design and Indigenous peoples.

Join us as Cornelius deploys methodologies rooted in Indigenous knowledge where fact, or the familiar, is coupled myth, or the strange. ukwé·tase opens on March 13 and will run through the end of January 2025, with additional program offerings this summer.


Chris T Cornelius, ukwé·tase (newcomer/stranger), 2023