First American Art Magazine No. 21, Winter 2018/19 - Page 63

CHRIS PAPPAN So, when you are creating art, are you thinking about your audience in that moment? Maybe I don’t think about my audience as much as I should. I think that it’s still kind of a learning process as well as thinking about who is going to be seeing this and what reaction they’re going to have. For the most part, when I think of the audience, it’s mostly in terms of people who aren’t educated about Native peoples, and that’s been the bulk of my experience when showing my work. Whether it’s at art fairs, markets, or gallery shows, I start off asking them if they know about ledger art, and 85 percent of the time people are like, “No, what is that?” And then I go into my spiel about the beginning of ledger art and all that. So I’m mostly thinking about that and not really thinking about the Native audience, because I kind of take for granted that we all know the history behind that and then just kind of hope that the Native people that do view my work see it as something different and, I guess, revolutionary ... if I may be so bold to say [laughing]. But not everybody does, and that’s fine, too. I know you spent some time in Australia. Can you tell me why you were there and what that experience was like? That was for a fellowship through the Tamarind Institute in Albuquerque. The Tamarind Institute is a world-renowned lithography studio at the University of New Mexico. They bring in students to train them to be master lithographers, and then they go out to the world to start their own studios.… There was an open call for artists to submit work for this project called the LandMarks Project, which was a cultural exchange with Indigenous people in Australia and Indigenous people in North America. I was chosen as one of four artists to go to Arnhem Land. It’s in the very northern part of Australia. It was an eye-opening experience because I went with a preconceived notion of the Indigenous people there and what I was expecting their artwork to be, and that was all just blown out of the water when I got there! Then that made me realize, “Well, that’s why people have that same idea about us here,” so now I understand why people all lump us into one category, because I did the same thing with them. I only had a limited scope of who they were and what they did. above Fireball Visions II, 2018, graphite, colored pencil, map collage on found ledger paper, 22 × 18 in. framed. opposite Axiom, 2018, graphite, color pencil on 1907 ledger paper. WINTER 2018/19 | 61