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Edgar Heap of Birds: Artist Lecture

The relationship between form and content in Edgar Heap of Bird’s work was unusual, but at the same time very effective. The reason I say that is because his political pieces were hung like advertisements on the sides of California buses. The pieces that were done in as street signs were all displayed in a very modern way as well. The political pieces were presented almost as if it were signs for advertisement using modern tools such as roads and transit busses to exhibit them. Although the words were recognizable in correlating with Native Americans, the design had no cultural references. I thought that this was peculiar since Native American artwork is known for it’s brilliant colors and detailed patterns. I think that the collections of words were effective, but I didn’t care for the aesthetic look to the signs.
Edgar’s wooden ceremonial poles were successfully designed in a very contemporary fashion as well, which I was glad to see referenced an aspect of the culture. This was my favorite work because it was about Native American tribes continuing their traditional ceremonies in a society, which had destroyed their way of life and has no intentions of giving it back. However I don’t think that the words scribbled on the piece were very necessary because the artwork spoke without them.
I would say that Edgar’s work is a call for action. I don’t know what action specifically, perhaps a call for people in this country to be informed about the horrors of how the Europeans treated Native Americans and raped them of everything that they had.
Unfortunately a more dramatic action such as a law being passed to give them a lot of their land back probably won’t happen anytime in the future.
His work is very effective considering the Catholic Church was upset at the signs posted on the sides of the buses. He definitely arose tension, which was his goal. It’s unfortunate that the people that noticed it and were public about it were offended and wanted them taken down immediately. I can only hope that the majority felt compassion for this huge population that were here before us and was stripped of everything.
Over all I enjoyed his work, but I was a little disappointed in all the negativity of his pieces. I was hoping for more pieces that represented the tribes and culture and how modern technology and society has shaped Native Americans present culture. I do not think that the damage of European imperialism should be overlooked, but I wanted to learn more about their modern day culture, because it’s probably not dominated by consumerism like the rest of American popular culture thrives on.