Photo credit: David Emitt Adams
Can you share your personal story and how it connects to your art practice?
I’ve lived most of my life on a divided line, living in a linear world with a nonlinear mind. I’ve always wanted to communicate using my own personal format. This has lead to a lifetime of developing that format and is always a work in progress. The need to touch and build with my hands has always been a part of my life and, with that, I feel very privileged. Often, my family moved to new towns and cities. This was an accepted part of my life that helped me keep a fresh perspective. I believe this, and my Indigenous roots, have been a major contribution to my art practice.
What are the themes of your artwork, and why do you choose them?
As a contemporary artist who practices largely in Indigenous issues, I often trace my concepts through the western projected narrative as well as a rooted personal Indigenous dialog. Historic western imagery and ideals act as stains that hammer through most of my work and position themselves into boldly-laced discussions. Imprinting an expired label onto archaic capitalistic driven social constructs tends to be my main target. I continually find a need to make a call for Indigenous-minded social, political, and environmental progression within our society. The lack of it has buried us and left us with a disconnected reasoning with ourselves.
What does it mean to you to be an artist living and working in Arizona today?
Arizona is a wonderful place. It is Indigenous land that still responds to the people that belong to it. It also has a bit of a bite to it that stirs the dust and strikes discomfort into the eye of humanity. These are the things that keep me, as an artist, alive and attentive. I appreciate what it has given me and I’m always working diligently to give it justice.
What projects are you working on now? What can we expect to see from you in 2016?
I’ve been pretty busy at the turn of the year moving my print shop, WarBird Press, into a more public space. With this accomplished, one project that I’ve been fixated on has been my letterpress work that I’m using for public engagement. I have an old vending machine that was used on the streets to sell newspapers and I’ve been exploring the levels of public interaction with it. The history of prints, prints as media and as propaganda, are deep within the documentation of our internal framework as a society. I’m revisiting that narrative by applying adjusted prints to the existing archives. Random and some not-so-random places in the public are scouted as drop spots for the vending machine. The prints are then placed inside for the public to purchase at a price well below market value. Newspaper vending machines have quickly been driven to the shadows of society by digital media and, with that, the main use of the print as a multiple has been lost. I use digital media as the conductor that directs traffic to the specific location of its predecessor. It’s a play to recall our conditioned notions that frame the selected notes of history.