As a Tribal Indigenous Entity, creating space for authentic representation in the United States is a battle fought from the margins. Native reality was born from and lives at the center of a natural world respectful of Earth bound ways, and clever maneuvers are necessary to challenge an encroaching American Empire. From Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds’ perspective, Native agencies must be generous yet savvy and offer a critical lens that both enlightens and protects their community. Operating as a maneuver to strike the viewer, Old Indian Tricks activates personal, subliminal and political observations.
The exhibition at Hannah Traore Gallery presents a thirty-foot installation of 48 monotype prints. Each work on display is produced using viscosity, a printmaking method in which Heap of Birds paints clear oil over transparent plexi plates, rendering a text in reverse. Without re-inking, a second print is pulled from the plexi plate resulting in what is known as a “Ghost Print.” Each subsequent pressing creates two unique artworks: 24 primary prints and 24 ghost prints.
The Ghost Prints are often faint, disrupted and somewhat difficult to read. Heap of Birds offers a more complex reading of the Ghost Print as a representation of America’s amnesia of violence, incomprehension of the Indigenous world and devaluation of Native peoples. All of Heap of Birds’ prints are now “Ghosted” to offer this important perspective; Old Indian Tricks presents 20 additional Ghost Prints from previous monotype-based installations.
Concurrent with the show at Hannah Traore Gallery, work by Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds is on display at MoMA as a part of their exhibition: Just Above Midtown: Changing Spaces, running through February 18, 2023.
“It’s an honor to work with an artist who’s used his practice to highlight the issues that his community faces. His work is making a profound impact on the art world and beyond,” Hannah Traore, founder, Hannah Traore Gallery, said.
About Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds
Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds is an artist and an advocate for indigenous communities worldwide. His work is multidisciplinary, including public art messages, large-scale drawings, Neuf-Series acrylic paintings, prints, glassworks and monumental outdoor sculptures made of steel and enameled in porcelain. Heap of Birds’ artistic creations were shown at the Venice Biennale in 2007.
Heap of Birds’ practice is rooted in social justice for indigenous communities, but also gives voice to the importance of having the freedom to be an expressive individual within a tribal circle.
His work has been exhibited at some of the most renowned institutions in the world, including The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Orchard Gallery, Northern Ireland; the Cheyenne and Arapaho Nations Reservation, Oklahoma; Site Santa Fe Museum, New Mexico; Grand Palais, Paris; and Documenta, Kassal.
His work is housed in many museum collections, such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.