First American Art Magazine No. 21, Winter 2018/19 - Page 83

BOOK REVIEWS unavoidable consequence rather than a deliberate choice on her behalf. Belmore demonstrates how the lines between indigeneity, artistry, the political, and poetics can often be blurred. Much of the success of Belmore’s show is aided by the sheer amount of gallery space that allows the viewer room to do exactly what the artist puts forth: face the monumental. Monumental is not confined to a single area of the museum—instead, a selection of works from the exhibition can be found throughout the AGO. One of these pieces is Belmore’s Biinjiya’iing Onji (From Inside), a tent hand-carved from marble in 2017 for documenta 14. Designed to reflect the ongoing refugee crisis in Athens, Greece, Biinjiya’iing Onji transcends location. Sitting here at the end of a corridor in Toronto, the tent continues to speak to the pluralities that come with naming a place home. While much of Belmore’s work deals with subjects of violence—state, interpersonal, colonial, or otherwise— Belmore’s art reaches out with a gesture of succor. On the fifth floor of the Art Gallery of Ontario, in the face of hurt, we are also offered healing. In the many photographs of Rebecca Belmore that hang throughout the galleries, she stands tall with her back turned away from the camera, perhaps as a means to protect her sense of self. State of Grace (2002) is the one image that shows her face. In it, the artist looks to have achieved serenity as she sleeps in a bed of white linens. The paper on which the photograph is printed has been slit into a series of even strips, allowing air to flow freely through it. In the presence of the weight that exists here, it becomes necessary to consider what is required for one to attain stillness. It is true that we do not know what the world will look like in 20 years, but an exhibition like Facing the Monumental prompts an opportunity to imagine it. —Morgan E. Freeman above Rebecca Belmore (Lac Seul Ojibwe), One thousand One hundred & eighty One, 2014, nails, severed tree trunk, 36 × 36 × 24 in. Both images courtesy of the Art Gallery of Ontario. opposite Rebecca Belmore (Lac Seul Ojibwe), Biinjiya’iing Onji (From Inside), 2017, hand-carved marble, 55 × 78¾ × 78¾ in., fabricated by the studio of Vangelis Ilias. Brian Honyouti: Hopi Carver Zena Pearlstone, PhD iUniverse, 2018 H OPI A RT I ST BR IA N HONYOUTI is well known for the technical innovations he brought to commercial katsina carvings. Books and articles, as well as Native art gallery websites, note that he was the first carver to substitute wood preserver for paint and that he departed from convention by preferring to leave parts of the bodies of his carvings unpainted. When he did apply paint, he chose oil over acrylics, which gave his carvings a subtle warmth that brighter acrylics could not match. While other carvers opted to use electric tools, Honyouti preferred a simple knife to do his work. He also departed from carvings of single figures and often depicted multiple figures supported by elaborately carved and painted bases. These are some of the reasons why Brian Honyouti is regarded as a pioneer in contemporary katsina carving. What is less known is the unique storytelling he developed in his carvings. Art historian Zena Pearlstone, who has written extensively on Honyouti, turns her attention to his narrative style in this book. She emphasizes that the stories embedded in his carvings are not simply commentary on the effects of mainstream American culture on the Hopi; rather, WINTER 2018/19 | 81