MSU's Harvey Art Gallery to Host Native American Artist Heap of Birds

MSU's Harvey Art Gallery to Host Native American Artist Heap of Birds

Cheyenne and Arapaho artist Edgar Heap of Birds does not shy away from confronting the history and fate of Native Americans. He created a series of monoprints, "Secrets in Life and Death," to promote understanding and empathy for the American indigenous population. The Juanita Harvey Art Gallery at Midwestern State University will showcase Heap of Birds' works and host an opening reception from 6-8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27.


Heap of Birds' three sets of 16 monoprints, titled "Secrets in Life and Death," were created in four different shades of blue with text-based observations of current life experiences and thoughts of the past survival of indigenous peoples. The unifying factor of the exhibit is the color blue, which is both utilized and celebrated in the range of artworks on display. In an artist's statement, Heap of Birds explains that the color blue reflects the natural elements that indigenous people hold sacred such as the blue sky, fresh waters, and the sea. The fourth monoprint set is composed of red prints titled "Genocide and Democracy."


In addition to the monoprints, Heap of Birds created hand blown Murano glass vases, titled "Most Serene Republics: Native Bodies of Remembrance." The vases were inspired by and honor the Native American warriors and their families who perished during travels to Europe as part of the late 19th century Wild West shows organized by William "Buffalo Bill" Cody. Wrapped around the outside of the vases are the bodies of 16 warriors, lying flat, in varying shades of blue or white. Those works were included in the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian as its entry toward the competition for the United States Pavilion at the 52nd Venice Biennale.


Heap of Birds received his BFA from the University of Kansas in 1976 and his MFA from Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia in 1979. He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts Degree from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston in 2008.


In 2012, Heap of Birds was one of 50 artists honored by United States Artists with an individual fellowship award of $50,000 and named USA Ford Fellow in the Visual Arts category. Heap of Birds has taught Native American studies at the University of Oklahoma since 1988. His seminars explore issues of the contemporary artist on local, national, and international levels.



The exhibit will be on display through Feb. 24. Gallery hours are 9 a.m.-noon and 2-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call 940-397-4264 for more information.