First American Art Magazine No. 22, Spring 2019 - Page 66

PROFILE ab ove Cannupa Hanska Luger (Mandan-Hidatsa- Arikara-Lakota) and Kathy Elk Woman-Whitman (Mandan- Hidatsa-Arikara), The One Who Checks & The One Who Balances, 2018, mixed-media regalia, installation view at the Marie Walsh Sharpe Gallery of Contemporary Art at the Ent Center for the Arts, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. Image courtesy of the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, Galleries of Contemporary Art. opposite In the Wake of The Beast, 2017, site-specific performance with regalia made from surplus industrial felt and ceramic, mixed media, Bennington, Vermont. Photo: Dylan McLaughlin (Navajo). model in mind, Luger has moved at a breakneck clip as he experiments in arting, melding his background as a fine artist making objects with curating, performance, and social practice. To that end, Luger has been traveling widely, both nationally and internationally, installing art, giving lectures, and conceptualizing large-scale public projects. He likens this first year’s explosion of activity to the trial and error that comes with producing the first sculpture in a series. It’s a prototype year wherein the learning curve is sharp, but where you “know how to make it better in the future. That’s what this first year has been like, so we know what the edge is.” I HADN’T REALLY MET LUGER until he came to my classroom at Santa Fe University of Art and Design last spring, though I taught his work in previous semesters’ classes, and had seen it at local galleries in Santa Fe. We crossed paths a few times, so I emailed him to see if he would create beads with the ten of us for his installation, Every One. I’d heard of 64 | WWW.FIRSTAMERICANARTMAGAZINE.COM his project from a short film produced by Razelle Benally that was making the rounds on social media. I wanted the students in my class, Contemporary Art of the Americas, to gain firsthand knowledge of what a continental art practice looked like by working with a practicing artist. He arrived wearing knee pads in the shape of eyes made out of felt, accoutrements worn before at Standing Rock. And then the object lesson began: rolling square hunks of clay into fist-sized round forms and piercing them at the center, like a bead. Repetition and materiality. The clay was charcoal in color, but it would eventually fire white and later be stained in a spectrum of greys. In total, Luger wanted to create 4,000 beads, each representing a data point and a human life. In 2013 the Canadian government began collecting data on missing and murdered First Nations women. According to the Native Women’s Association of Canada, the number of missing and murdered women from 1980 to 2012 reached 4,000.