Don’t Believe Miss Liberty. A Talk with Edgar Heap of Birds

My latest publication with ArtPulse Magazine is now up. You can find it on their Facebook site. The title is “Don’t Believe Miss Liberty: A Talk with Edgar Heap of Birds.” Click on that link it you’ll see it. Edgar is a fascinating artist questioning many of the cultural roles we play. The intro is below.

 

Edgar Heap of Birds with Wheel, 2005, sculptural installation at Denver Art Museum. Courtesy of the artist.

Edgar Heap of Birds with Wheel, 2005, sculptural installation at Denver Art Museum. Courtesy of the artist.

 

In the national conversation on racial inequity, one group is continuously left on the sideline-those who were here first. Given that Native Americans precedently inhabited America, one would think their inalienable rights should at least match those of any settlers. But as history demonstrates, they don’t.

Of the many atrocities against Native Americans, the thousand mile death march known as the Trail of Tears is probably the most recited. But throughout U.S. history Native Americans have suffered numerous injustices, many of which have left our collective memory. Even the Great Emancipator, President Lincoln, isn’t clean. His order to execute Dakota Indians in Minnesota resulted in the largest mass hanging in our country’s history.

Edgar Heap of Birds is a provocative artist bringing attention to the sad irony which is the plight of Indigenous Americans. Cheyenne by blood, his work utilizes contemporary conceptual and postmodern tactics to expose some of the less civil accounts of American history, ones that get little attention in today’s press. From large scale celebratory sculptures like “Wheel” to road-sign-looking text based installations, his work addresses the issues of land ownership, displacement and cultural imperialism still haunting those of Native American descent.

Recently, I spoke with Edgar about his life, his art and his views of contemporary culture. During our conversation, what struck me most was the level of compassion and generosity coming from an artist making such aggressive, politically charged work. As you will see, he embodies the core value by which Cheyenne chiefs are defined, generosity.

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