ANADARKO — While living in what some would call a premise out of a sci-fi movie, the Southern Plains Indian Museum (SPIM) is finding a new way to feature a Native American artist who mixes his people’s history with film to signature his art.
It fits as, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought new and creative thinking for the museum into finding ways to continue to exhibit artists.
“Road Warrior,” a special exhibition of contemporary paintings by Kiowa tribal artist Micah Wesley is now available for viewing via the following site (click on the link on the online edition to go straight to the exhibit): http://iacbmuseums-viewingroom.exhibit-e.art/viewing-room.
The exhibit will be on display through April 1, 2021.
Bambi Allen, SPIM director, said that due to COVID-19 restrictions, this launch offers a new way to serve tribal artists. More is expected from the platform, to include online public programming. It's made adaptation a must.
"For the time being this will be how we exhibit artists, we hope to return to in person displays next year," she said.
"Unfortunately, the virus has halted our public programming and visitation."
Allen said the past months have seen various members of the community reach out to show support for the museum by phone calls and emails. The shared view has been excitement for reopening and understanding for the current situation.
The downtime is being used for training and tackling various projects to upgrade the overall museum experience, according to Allen.
Allen said Wesley is a perfect artist to kick things off with this new format.
“Mr. Wesley is an excellent artist, and we are proud to provide a venue to exhibit his works,” she said.
Wesley is a “skilled painter” who specializes in acrylic on canvas works. After graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe, N.M., he went on to earn a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Oklahoma, Norman, where he currently resides.
Allen said that Wesley was “deeply influenced” by his parents.
“ His father was a painter, and encouraged Mr. Wesley to accompany him to collect supplies, visit galleries, and meet fellow artists,” she said. “His mother’s singing continues to guide his hand while painting, allowing him to transfer his personal thoughts and emotions onto the canvas.”
Wesley’s childhood drawings of animals and dinosaurs evolved as he grew into a graffiti artist teenager.
Everything from before has come together to influence his style and technique, Allen said. Although acrylic is his primary medium, he has expanded to include oils and enamel paints on gessoed canvas. Much of his current work draws parallels between films and the history of Native Americans.
“Mr. Wesley creates most of his artwork spontaneously, placing brush to canvas whenever struck by inspiration,” she said. “Rejecting the traditional narratives of art history, which he views as overly homogenous, he seeks to emphasize individualism and identity in his art.”
Science fiction films such as “Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior” have become his muse, Allen said. He’s found a way it speaks to his heritage.
“He draws inspiration from the life struggles of characters and communities and uses these themes to create connections between contemporary Indian communities and those inhabiting a dystopian future,” she said. “Many of the paintings in this exhibit relate to the ‘Road Warrior’ of the ‘Mad Max’ film series, a haunted individual who is neither good nor bad, but who symbolizes the human drive for survival against all odds.”
Allen said finding new ways to continue to exhibit the works helps keep the museum, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, Indian Arts and Crafts Board, a place for Native artists to thrive.
Written by Scott Rains: firstname.lastname@example.org.