Apsáalooke artist Wendy Red Star creatively engages with the Stanford community

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April 21, 2022

In his personal exhibition American progress at the Anderson Collection, Red Star explores the costly ramifications of westward expansion on Native Americans.

By Robin Wander

Wendy Red Star: American Progress On view from the Anderson Collection at Stanford University is a solo exhibition of work by artist Wendy Red Star, who grew up on the Apsáalooke (Crow) Reservation in Montana. With historical research, Stanford student collaborations, large-scale installations and sovereignty imagery, Red Star asks viewers to grapple with the layered complexity of American history.

Wendy red star, American progress2022. Wallpaper print based on an original painting by numbers from American Progress by John Gast by Stanford students and staff Renad Abualjamal, Emily Beeston, Marco Gonzalez, Audrey Kearns, Jason Linetzky, Crystal Liu, Jean MacDougall, Ximena Martinez , Smiti Mittal, Sarah Panzer, Nik Rost, Aimee Shapiro, Mark Shunney, Ileana Tejada and Mhar Tenorio. (Image credit: Courtesy of the artist and Sargent’s Daughters Gallery)

On view on the first floor of the museum until August 28, the exhibit is inspired by Red Star’s cultural heritage and commitment to many forms of creative expression. It addresses racism, displacement and the culture surrounding the westward expansion of the United States in the 19th century with works created specifically for the exhibition.

“This collaboration with Wendy Red Star provides us with a very special opportunity to present an expanded view of American art to students and the public by exhibiting new works by an artist whose research-based practice addresses important issues in our era,” Jason Linetzky said. , director of the Anderson Collection, always looking for ways to demonstrate the links between the study, creation and experience of art.

On April 27, during a three-day on-campus engagement with students, Red Star will present the Anderson Collections Annual Burt and Deedee McMurtry Lecture, a free public program. She will speak with Karen Biestman, Associate Dean and Director of the Native American Cultural Center and Dean for Community Engagement and Diversity at Stanford. The talk and conversation will focus on Red Star’s experience as an Apsáalooke artist and his American progress exposure.

“We look forward to welcoming the artist to campus to engage with students and the community,” Linetzky said.

Lady Colombia

Painting by John Gast from 1872 American progress is the namesake and cornerstone of new works in the Anderson Collection, beginning with a cheeky, larger-than-life female cloth figure floating above the museum lobby. In Gast’s painting, an illuminated diaphanous white angel-like figure known as “Lady Columbia” hovers above an American landscape that includes Native Americans driven west by white pioneers. Her divine appearance, the book and the telegraph line, attributes which she holds in her hands, together with her high surveillance of the progression below, suggest moral and intellectual authority. In Gast’s painting and in Red Star’s overloaded cartoon titled America as a Womanthe floating female seems to bless the people below.

Inside the Wisch Family Gallery, a wallpaper print of a paint-by-numbers version of American progress, made by Stanford students and museum staff following remote instructions from Red Star, covers one of the gallery walls. The paint-by-numbers version is abstract and sometimes appears messy and unfinished, which Red Star intended as an echo of US history. Aimee Shapiro, director of programming and engagement at the Anderson Collection and curator of the exhibition, says of the work: “The West developed through the ideals of capitalism and individualism. at the expense of the people, cultures, and wildlife that had long inhabited this In this image, Lady Columbia effectively hunts what white settlers considered undesirable, undesirable, and disposable.

To look forward

Other collaborative works in the exhibition include a projected digital slideshow of tribal seals from the United States and a corresponding work titled their land, which locates the communities represented by these seals, and current tribal lands, on the map of the United States. More than a dozen Stanford students, including those affiliated with the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity and the Institute for Diversity in the Arts, conducted research and collected material in collaboration with the artist for these two works.

“Red Star not only explores the painful past of westward expansion, but also looks to the future using the symbols and seals of many registered and unregistered Native American tribes, showcasing the sovereignty of indigenous communities,” Shapiro said. New seals will be added to the digital slideshow as student researchers make discoveries throughout the spring term.

Shapiro believes this collaborative exhibit involving students makes it truly unique. “The connection between a living artist and a student can be life changing. Through this project, the students were able to become artists themselves, whose working process required research as well as the act of artistic creation to be exhibited in a museum of contemporary art,” Shapiro said.

centerpiece of the exhibition, American progressand the projected seals of tribes across our country “make visible the student and artist’s commitment to presenting a counter-narrative to the much more common displays of American history in museums,” she added. .

Also on display are lithographs that feature Red Star’s genealogy and sculptural and painted depictions of bison, which were the sustenance of Indigenous peoples and a target of elimination by settlers during westward expansion.

To register for the McMurtry talk featuring Red Star, which will include a Q&A with the artist, click here.

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