There are five in total-three of which are part of a set. This series focuses on taking a common item, a book, and reconstructing it to relate towards Native American perspectives. Since many tribes never had a writing system, I felt that adjusting and creating books helped start the shift within my project to utilize western objects and re-imagine them into a different light.
The first, titled Dance, is an accordion fold book. Approximately 2”x3”x116”, the book starts with black covers with the title written in white. When opening it, sunset colors radiate out from the center with black on the back for the night sky. On every other page is a small outline of a powwow women’s fancy dancer, mimicking animation frames. Powwow dancing has become a contemporary part of Native American lives and pan-indianism.
The second book, titled 1491-1493, is also an accordion book. This book is an altered book, meaning it consists of an already existing book that has been taken apart and put back together. Approximately 4”x5”x60”, one side has vibrant colors and clear lithograph prints, while the other side is worn down and faded. The book used was “Custer Died for your Sins: An Indian Manifesto” (1969) by Vine Deloria Jr., a Native American author and historian who wrote pieces such as “Behind the Trail of Broken Treaties”(1974) and “Spirit and Reason” (1999). His work consists of civil rights issues and arguments that interpret tribal law and sovereignty.
The last three books, titled Past, Present, Future, are the largest of the series, and have the most factual based information within. Stylized as a fold out book at 18”x4 1/2” and 18”x 29 1/2” when unfolded, the three layers to the books tap into both historic and modern perspectives of the Native American experience.
These books offer a broad look into Native American perspectives and became the stepping stone in how I wanted to convey thoughts and ideas into modern items. This would eventually lead to the expansion of the project to include proposal drawings.The topics that were much more specific became part of the painting series.
Indigenous Interventions: Paintings
The paintings were the pieces that coincide the most with the original proposal of the project--which was to create murals to be on display. However, as the project became more about educating viewers on specific issues within Indigenous communities within North America, the paintings started to take a more direct composition. With six in total, these pieces encompass specific events and stylistic choices to create insightful paintings.
The first two paintings, titled Missing and Murdered, focus on the First Nations of Canada and the “No More Stolen Sisters” campaign for indigenous women. Since 1944, there have been reports of violence against women within Canada--the number of which have significantly increased within the past ten years. Both of these pieces drew inspiration from missing posters, which for some are an everyday occurrence.
The next painting, titled S vs.C, uses iconography from Stanford to challenge the history of the mascot. Out of all the paintings, this one was the most challenging with both the historic significance, as well as personal conflict with the imagery. The use of Native American mascots is a loaded topic for many Native Americans because of the stereotypes it perpetuates, Stanford not being an exception. I wanted to challenge the common assumptions and cultural insensitivity that many possess regarding the topic, as well as uncover the history of the mascot on campus for others to know.
The three large pieces deal with activism within America, each representing important moments on both a large and local scale, though I chose for this one to remain untitled since it is for the Native American Community Center on campus. I wanted these paintings to mimic the tone of the three artist books in that they present facts and significant events while also celebrating mixed cultures.
These paintings offered me a challenge in pushing my abilities as an artist to develop and produce large pieces that deal on specific issues. Each one uses different techniques that help emphasize every component and create seamless pieces. During the development of this series, I was able to understand more historic contexts that go into political art. It also allowed me to think of more ways to expand the drawings that were to be created.
Oil on Canvas
Indigenous Interventions: Drawings
Much like the last four paintings and artist books, my drawings and digital renditions were meant to be a direct link towards culturally significant events, as well as utilizing a public object or place into more culturally relevant proposals at Stanford. Composed in watercolor and graphite, the drawings are meant to be confrontational, either subtly altering small items on campus, or changing locations on a large scale. Much like the artist books, there are broad concepts of Native American culture that are present; however, they are mixed with the culture of Stanford life. This led to the questions that define the series: “Why and how do certain objects/locations relate to Stanford?” and “What can they potentially tell in regards to Native American cultures?”
The first two, titled Reclaim were based on the Rodin sculpture garden. These paintings invoked the question on the nature of Rodin’s connection to Stanford, especially considering the amount of works that exist on the campus. When sketching different forms of the statues, I found myself questioning more on what Rodin’s relationship to the campus was, if any, and pondered more on why there was a lack of art relevance towards the native people of the area: the Muwekma Ohlone tribe.
The next drawing has an extra component to it: digital prints of what the indigenous interventions would look like at Stanford. Titled Barriers, this abstract piece would focus on language survival for many tribes by having different designs painted upon the bollards, which are obstructions in the middle of roads and pathways. With 562 tribes within America, this was one of the more broader projects that would touch on a topic that is common between them all. Divided by regions, different designs based on tribes were created.
The last drawing, titled Round Dance, was one that took advantage of both locations and an activity that goes on at Stanford: chalking. Using roundabouts, these two drawings use the ground as a canvas to create designs that were inspired by the Muwekma Ohlone people and their dance regalia, as well as bright colors associated with powwow dancing. Chalking is a form of communication on the campus, and is often used as a way to get a quick message along for a student group or event as one bikes by. However, the messages slowly fade away, leaving only an imprint of where they once were.
Traditional Paiute art with a twist
Duck Decoys created using traditional paiute techniques with copper and barbed wire