Indigenous Linguistics (2015) at "EXPANDED: UNLV Fine Art Exhibition" at Sahara West held November 2015 to January 2016.
MESSAGE MAKING: I met Fawn Douglas while she was a fine art undergrad at UNLV and I was struck by her dedication to art and activism. Late last year I asked her if she would be the subject for my first work as a MFA Fine Art candidate. At first it was to be large-scale digital collage piece using the composition and medium I've used before. However, it was clear the complicated cultural message would be easier to read if the visual codes of advertising were used.
TOO SLICK: "It looks like a Gap ad" later said one observer on my final piece, which was my general intent, and not necessarily taking on "normcore" pop fashion irony. When you consider how underfunded grassroots messages are up against image makers of a dominate culture, in this case the NFL and Washington D.C. pro football fans, playing up polished becomes about joining the conversation.
ANOTHER NOTE: Fawn's activism is a family tradition. Her aunt is Suzan Shown Harjo, the poet and lecturer who, among other things, has been bringing awareness on mascots based on Native Americans for years and recently won a court victory. In 2014, Harjo was awarded the Medal of Freedom, another bullet point for a long list of achievements.
LARGER PLATFORM: As it happens, the National Congress of American Indians released an elegant 30 second spot in time for the Super Bowl that also says “Native Americans call themselves many things” but they don't use “Redskin.” The ad is titled “Proud To Be” and supports various movements, like ChangeTheMascot, but wasn't submitted to the Super Bowl for placement since the NFL doesn’t air activist messages. It is safe to guess the $5 million for 30 seconds of Super Bowl air time had as much to do with keeping two minute spot from being seen during the game's broadcast. Nonetheless, the NCAI adopted the trend of using social media to get their message to a Super Bowl audience.
Proud To Be National Congress of American Indians.
Above: Stephen Hendee created sculpture for the celebration of 30 years of public art programming in the City of Las Vegas.