By Collestipher D. Chatto
The 15th annual student exhibition, Art in the Raw, ran from Sept. 12 to Oct. 4 in the Primitive Edge Gallery on campus. The show, which began in 1999, was, and still is, a response to censorship issues, said Felipe ColÃ³n, Primitive Edge Gallery Coordinator.
The exhibition allows students to showcase thought-provoking and controversial artwork that addresses social, political, environmental, and Indigenous cultural concerns and issues, ColÃ³n said.
“No matter the content, no matter the medium, no artwork is turned away,” stated the flyer soliciting artwork. This year’s show included works in a variety of mediums, such as painting, drawing, sculpture, and film.
The CHRONICLE sat down to talk with three Art in the Raw artists about the concept underlying their art exhibited in the show, each representing three mediums. Adrian Wall, 3-D, Charles Rencountre, installation, and Monty Little, 2-D.
Adrian Wall: The Language of Love
Showcasing at the Primitive Edge Gallery is one of the most memorable places he has exhibited his work, said Wall (Jemez and Laguna Pueblo, Seneca, and Chippewa), a senior majoring in Studio Arts, focusing on sculpture.
Before, he was showing at galleries where he presented art that was made for a certain demographic rather than creating art that he liked. But the Primitive Edge Gallery’s different exhibitions throughout the year, such as Art in the Raw, give him more creative freedom to create what he wants, he said.
As he observed the art, Wall said, “You can get a glimpse of what’s going on in the world. I think it’s incredible.” Wall (Jemez Pueblo, Seneca, Laguna, and Chippewa) is in his senior year majoring in studio arts focusing on sculpture making.
Wall titled his sculpture made of metal and stone, “The Language of Love.” The face of a male rises from a stalk of layered, rusted steel that has words in various indigenous languages for love. Some of the words are translucent and some vivid.
Wall said the piece is of a person who’s in love and floating in his euphoria. “It’s really difficult to do in a static art form, like sculpture, especially when you’re using cold and hard material like stone and steel. So I did my best to make a balance with lines, angular lines as well as fluid lines, and some colors, too.”
Wall was using the text in a play of languages to convey his idea that there are different kinds of love and relationships. “There are different ways of describing what this person might be feeling,” he said.
Wall, who is a musician and singer, said he seeks an interaction between the audience and his art. If he didn’t have the audience and response, he wouldn’t feel fulfilled. “I think that’s the musician in me talking,” he said.
Rencountre’s Manifested Destiny
Charles Rencountre’s installation piece, “Manifest Destiny I,” was situated in the gallery’s main entrance during the show. Eleven bison skulls hung from the ceiling, all facing east.
Rencountre (Wicasa Cu Oyate), a junior majoring in studio arts focusing on sculpture, said the title refers to the term the U.S. government used for stealing Native American lands, reflecting an attitude, philosophy, and justification for what the colonialists did.
Directly below the floating skulls, Rencountre taped to the floor an array of multiple copies of the same photo of a huge pile of bison skulls. He did this to show the onslaught of the killing of the buffalo by traders, also reminiscent of the genocide of the many tribes of North America, he said.
He bought the skulls from a trader in South Dakota who was selling them for about $25 for just a simple skull and $200 to $300 for a bull.
Rencountre, a traditional Lakota, said the buffalos are sacred to the Lakota people, and their skeletal remains are highly respected because the animal’s spirit resides in them.
What struck him about the photo was how the bison skulls were piled with the heads inverted on their crests. The Lakota treat the buffalo very ritually, very ceremonially, very lovingly, he said, because it is what they lived on and was everything to them.
“We would never take that skull and turn it upside down and shove it into a pile. It’s like the worst thing you can do to desecrate that,” he said.
Monty Little: “Me at My Utmost Rawness”
Monty Little’s painting, “This, Until Then,” portrays a Diné woman staring at the viewer. She appears tranquil, but full of thoughts.
The portrait is of Annie Dodge Wauneka, the second woman to be elected to the Navajo Nation Council in 1951, said Little (Diné, Salt clan and Many Goats clan), who is majoring both in creative writing (senior) and studio arts (junior), emphasizing on poetry and printmaking.
“I’m really proud of women on the Navajo Nation, especially the ones who have really gave back to the community,” he said.
Because he’s tired of seeing painting as just being painting, and to create more interest, Little said he added nails protruding from the portrait, interconnected with string, reminiscent of weaving and the intricate designs of Diné rugs.
“I felt like it’s me at my own utmost rawness,” he said, “It’s more about just breaking out of my shell and trying to grasp what I can do and what is possible.”
The title, “This, Until Then,” pertains more to his personal creative process and not to the subject of the portrait. Usually the titles for his work don’t pertain to the actual work but are his inner dialogue, he said.
“I became an artist to communicate in a different way,” he said. He feels that everything has information and it’s up to the viewer to interpret that information.
Copyright © 2013