Lakota/Mandan/Arikara/Hidatsa, b. 1979
The One Who Checks, The One Who Balances, 2017-201
Ceramic, wool, riot gear, surplus industrial felt, beadwork, repurposed materials
Courtesy of the artist
Cannupa Hanska Luger
This large-scale installation comprises two individual works of art: The One Who Checks & The One Who Balances and This Is Not a Snake. The One Who Checks & The One Who Balances is a set of two figures, wearing what the artist describes as “futuristic Indigenous regalia” composed of found crocheted afghan blankets, ceramic, industrial felt and beadwork by the artist’s mother, Kathy Elkwoman Whitman. The regalia has been worn by the artist and other collaborators in performative actions in response to communities whose land and culture are impacted by resource extraction, water rights, borders and gentrification. In This Is Not a Snake, Luger has created and continues to create an ongoing sculpture he describes as a “grotesquely poignant winding tapestry of waste.” The work itself is composed of the detritus and waste of extractive industries and structurally violent systems created and supported through capitalistic colonialism, including but not limited to resource extraction, the prison and military industrial complexes, and the weaponization of borders. Concertina wire, tires, munition cans, oil drums and plastic buckets twist in a serpentine formation in the gallery and are interspersed with ceramic pieces the artist made, as well as fiber and steel elements, as a means to “represent the industrial exploitation of land and its minerals,” Luger stated. The piece grows and will continue to grow in tandem with the sustained growth of these extractive and violent systems until these forms or repression cease.
Cannupa Hanska Luger is a multidisciplinary artist who uses social collaboration in response to timely and site-specific issues. Luger produces multipronged projects that take many forms. Through monumental installations that incorporate ceramics, video, sound, fiber, steel, and repurposed materials, Luger interweaves performance and political action to communicate stories about 21st century Indigeneity. Luger is a recipient of the 2020 Creative Capital Award and the 2019 Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant. He is also a 2019 Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Honoree and the recipient of the Museum of Arts and Design’s 2018 inaugural Burke Prize. Luger has exhibited internationally at venues such as the Gardiner Museum, Washington Project for the Arts, Art Mûr, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, among others. He lectures and participates in residencies and large-scale projects around the globe, and his work is in many public collections. Luger holds a BFA in studio arts from the Institute of American Indian Arts.
Kathy Elkwoman Whitman (Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation) b. 1952, is a beadwork and jewelry artist from the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation, on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota along the Missouri River. She is also of Norwegian descent from her mother. She credits her children and grandchildren for her inspiration and relishes their input. From them come love and happiness, and her art echoes that love. She is a celebrated sculptor, painter, and jeweler, and is also a respected matriarch and knowledge keeper.