The Gallery’s upcoming Late Shift Extra takes place on Friday 17 May and artist Edgar Heap of Birds responds to the Gallery’s free exhibition, George Catlin: American Indian Portraits, through the question ‘HOW DO WE SEE EACH OTHER?’.
Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds is a contemporary artist from the Cheyenne and Arapaho Nations of Oklahoma. His work explores the relationship between Native American memory and non-Native historical accounts. Edgar’s artistic practice consists of public art messages, installations and prints that use quick, simple language to engage their audiences.
Below, Edgar and his son, Wougim Heap of Birds, share their thoughts on the concept of the evening and Edgar’s current projects and inspiration.
Why did you choose the question ‘HOW DO WE SEE EACH OTHER?’ for visitors to the Gallery on the night to respond to?
Edgar: The focus of my work is to create connections between indigenous peoples across the world, examining the past and taking a fresh look today at issues of social justice. How we see each other is something that I think about a lot and have done in previous projects, such as Tell Yourself which I exhibited in Sydney, Australia. Catlin portrays a one-sided view of Native Americans and this question will encourage two-way communication, correcting Catlin’s stoic, quiet and ‘no smiling’ image of Native American people.
What are you hoping the visitor experience will be like on the night and what will they take away from the evening?
Edgar: I hope that people will see the bigger picture. People will be defining themselves, not each other. I want to break the Native American stereotypes and I hope that people will be educated in contemporary Native American culture.
Wougim: I want to open people’s eyes to the health issues that Native Americans face today and introduce people to Native American culture through music that I have created that will be part of selections played in the Main Hall.
What exhibitions have you got coming up? Where can we expect to see your work in the future?
Edgar: I am working on digital versions of my monotypes to exhibit in a show called Indigenous Brilliance in Italy during June and, for the first time, I am taking part in the Santa Fe Indian Market this August. In the longer term, I would like to gain gallery representation and place work in collections across the world, which might include London.
Join Edgar and Wougim in a unique artist-led participatory event and take part in events throughout the Gallery including films, spoken word, a philosophy salon and live music at Late Shift Extra: Edgar Heap of Birds . To find out more about Edgar and his practice visit his website heapofbirds.ou.edu/
Image Credits (from top to bottom)
For Our Children by Edgar Heap of Birds Monoprint, 2013
Native Host, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands by Edgar Heap of Birds Sign panel, 2010
Edgar and son Wougim Heap of Birds with recent mono prints in the exhibition Nuance of Sky at Pomona College Museum of Art, California, in 2013.
Edgar working on mono prints, 2013.
Images © Edgar Heap of Birds