Made possible by a grant from the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian, the exhibition Heartland Reverberations will provide an opportunity for artists from descendant American Indian communities that were relocated out of Kansas to present work that speaks to the issues of place, identity and relocation. In spite of the many “celebrations” of statehood that have occurred in recent years (e.g. Oklahoma, Arizona), few opportunities have been offered for Indian people to express their own sense of commemoration. The five artists invited by the Spencer for this installation have distinguished themselves through their unique and thought-provoking treatment of these topics. They are Norman Akers, Bunky Echo-Hawk, Chris Pappan, Ryan Red Corn, and Dianne Yeahquo Reyner. Heartland Reverberations is presented by the Spencer as part of the Kansas Sesquicentennial.
Pawnee artist Bunky Echo-Hawk’s paintings are motivated by a sense of justice expressed in broad strokes of warm tones that communicate messages of environmental responsibility and historical reckoning. He utilizes irony and popular imagery to transcend stereotypes and communicate across cultural divides.
Chris Pappan’s “displaced persons” series overlays historical images of Native peoples on contemporary road maps, thus serving as a visual call that aims to encourage people to return to their homelands. His contemporary ledger drawings bring attention to the distortion of Native peoples in contemporary culture. Pappan will contribute three to five new works to the exhibition and will participate in a panel discussion on historical and contemporary ledger drawing in collaboration with Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence.
Ryan Red Corn has distinguished himself as a graphic and installation artist, working with museums and communities across the country to bring recognition to American Indian issues. Red Corn will serve as the graphic artist for the exhibition, creating dynamic visual imagery that gives voice to the collective creativity emerging from the group exhibition.
Dianne Yeahquo Reyner is the creative force behind the American Indian Repertory Theatre. As a Kiowa playwright Reyner addresses issues relevant to contemporary indigenous people, confronting stereotypes through juxtapositions of imagery and ideology. Reyner will develop a solo performance piece that relates the experience of Kiowa removal to Oklahoma.
Photo courtesy of Lawrence Journal-World