Plug In ICA, in partnership with The University of Winnipeg’s Gallery 1C03 and Office of the Associate Vice-President of Indigenous Affairs, is pleased to present a collaborative project by distinguished visiting artist and activist Edgar Heap of Birds, a leader of the traditional Cheyenne Elk Warrior Society. Plug In will exhibit a large text-based drawing, produced by Heap of Birds collectively through a free participatory workshop held in June 2016 as part of Pathways to Reconciliation Conference at the University of Winnipeg. The drawing will utilize language as a way to instigate conversation about First Nations histories, healing and reconciliation, focusing on local stories. The final drawing will be presented in our breezeway, Plug In’s most public face, challenging visitors by revealing hidden emotions and histories involving difficult policies and topics.
This workshop is part of Heap of Birds’ research and the artist’s community consultations toward the potential creation of Native Hosts, a site-specific, polyvalent public artwork. Native Hosts is an ongoing series addressing the use of public space, ownership, and the performative possibility of language through a series of refined aluminum sculptures. The sculptures, whose simple design resemble common road signs, become screens onto which Heap of Birds writes in red text a reversal of geographical demarcations. The number of sculptures, and their content, vary in relation to the designated region, determined by Indigenous nations who originally occupied the region. This complex and poetic artwork is emblematic of Heap of Birds’ practice, which has long sought to foreground Indigenous history and collaboration.
Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds is a multi-disciplinary artist whose practice spans painting, drawing, prints, and text-based conceptual works. Whether appearing as interventions in public spaces or in a gallery, Heap of Birds’ carefully honed artworks pose questions about time, modernity, identity, power, and the meaning and value of contemporary art in a global culture. Heap of Birds received his BFA from The University of Kansas, his MFA from Temple University, Pennsylvania, and undertook graduate studies at The Royal College of Art, London, England. Edgar is a Professor at the University of Oklahoma where he has taught visual arts over the last three decades. He has also taught as Visiting Professor at Yale University, Rhode Island School of Design, and at the Michaelis School of Fine Art at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. His work has been presented extensively both nationally and internationally, at venues including The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Documenta, Kassel; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Hong Kong Art Center, China; Grand Palais, France and the Venice Biennale, Italy.