Prichard Art Gallery to Feature Native American Comic Art Exhibit

Wednesday, October 9 2013


MOSCOW, Idaho – The Prichard Art Gallery will host a major museum exhibit, “Comic Art Indigène,” focusing on comic art adopted and expanded by Native American artists. The exhibit opens Friday, Oct. 18 and runs through Sunday, Dec. 1. A reception will take place on Friday, Oct. 18 at 5 p.m. at the Prichard Art Gallery.

“Comic Art Indigène” examines how American Indian artists today articulate and identify art, worldview, politics and culture through comic strips and comic books. Artists from across the United States are included, along with historic artifacts and images to contextualize Native American narrative traditions.

As the first widely accessible mass media, Native Americans consumed comics because of their visual impact and two-fisted tales of suspense, featuring fantastic heroes, villains, and gods old and new. These story elements mirror the oral traditions of Native American culture.

“Comic art has always had a slightly subversive implication. The fact that it blended well with Native American storytelling traditions makes it the perfect format for a critical look at today’s cultural landscape,” said Roger Rowley, director of the Prichard Art Gallery.

The exhibit uses traditional media, such as ceramics, beadwork and painting. Inspired by the unique medium of comics, using its icons, tropes and dynamism, artists create a new world of American Indian art, full of the brash excitement first seen in newsprint a century ago, sometimes unrefined, even crude at times, but never sterile.

Blending images and art spanning from the 13th century to contemporary works, “Comic Art Indigène” begins with an image of the red, white and blue All-American Man, a shield-carrying warrior pictograph of the Pueblo II period, circa 1290, contrasted with an image of the other red, white and blue, shield-hurling hero, Captain America.

“Cultures are dynamic. Traditions continue while new forms of expression evolve and invigorate the cultural fabric. The same can be said for the collaborative nature of the way this project has developed here bringing many groups together to celebrate and think critically. That’s exactly what this exhibit has been designed to accomplish,” said Rowley.

Curator Anthony Chavarria will present a lecture on the exhibit during the 14th annual Distinguished American Indian Speaker Series on Thursday, Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. at the Kenworthy Performing Art Center. A reception will follow at BookPeople. The series is supported by the University of Idaho’s American Indian Studies Program.

“Comic Art Indigène” has been organized by the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture/Laboratory of Anthropology, Santa Fe, N.M., and circulated through GuestCurator Traveling Exhibitions.

The exhibit has toured the U.S., including showings at prestigious institutions, such as the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Springs, Calif. and the Rockwell Museum of Western Art.

It is sponsored by the Latah County Community Foundation, University of Idaho Office of the President, Division of Diversity and Human Rights, the College of Art and Architecture, Associated Students of the University of Idaho, Native American Student Association, Office of Indigenous Affairs, School of Journalism and Mass Media and the business and individual Friends of the Prichard Art Gallery. Educational outreach programs are sponsored by the Idaho Commission on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Prichard Art Gallery hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 pm. The gallery is closed Monday. The gallery, an outreach facility of the University of Idaho College of Art & Architecture, is located at 414/416 S. Main St. on the corner of Fifth and Main Streets in downtown Moscow. Admission is free. Additional information is available at www.uidaho.edu/caa/prichardartgallery.
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