College exhibition to showcase contemporary narratives of Native Americans
Iman Omar | Thursday, September 13, 2018
Chris Pappan, who is a renowned Native American painter and ledger artist with work displayed in the collections of the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C.; The North America Native Museum in Zurich, Switzerland; and The Spencer Museum of Art in Lawrence, Kansas; among others, will be displaying his unique “Interpretative Narratives” exhibit at the Saint Mary’s Moreau Art Galleries from Thursday to Nov. 2.
The opening reception for Pappan’s work will take place Thursday from 5-7 p.m. in the Moreau Art Gallery. Ian Weaver, gallery director of the Moreau Art Galleries, said he first discovered Pappan’s work at the Field Museum in Chicago and was struck by the nuances in art and reality.
“I was not only struck by how beautifully detailed his drawings and paintings were, but then also that they were about something so personal to him as well,” he said. “I thought he would be a powerful artist to bring to the College because of his amazing technical work as well as the educational component his work promotes. I want students to take away the fact that artists don’t just make pretty pictures, but their art is oftentimes about something that is based on identity or social justice or politics or history, that it’s always about something more than what you’re seeing.”
Pappan’s art focuses on presenting a contemporary view of indigenous perspectives and promoting greater dialogue and understanding of Native American history that is contrary to existing stereotypes and distorted perceptions of Native peoples, Weaver said.
“I’m excited for people to walk through the installation that he’s creating, which is also very specific to Saint Mary’s, so he hasn’t done this anywhere else, which is exciting,” he said. “So, it will be an opportunity for him to realize something he hasn’t done before but also for the community to see something new as well.”
Pappan said he draws much of his inspiration from his Native Kaw, Osage and Cheyenne River Sioux descent.
“A lot of my work is based on historical photographs and putting a contemporary spin on them to create new narratives and dialogues within the works,” he said. “I hope it inspires people to think about Native American people in a contemporary way, as we are here and we exist now and not just in the past.”
The exhibition is designed to be interactive with the viewers, and there will be a video installation that will showcase some of his work on display in the Field Museum in Chicago so that viewers can get a deeper look into the narrative he is communicating with his art.
“This exhibition will be about creating new works with those elements of dialogue within finished pieces, and the gallery space here will be transformed into a large installation where smaller elements from the drawings will be increased in scale and on the wall in order to lead the viewer around into the gallery into this personal space where I have been working in,” Pappan said. “It’s kind of like a personal reflection, and I’m really proud and excited about it.”