Edgar Heap of Birds appointed Rose Art Museum Artist-in-Residence
Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds has been appointed the 2021-2022 Ruth Ann and Nathan Perlmutter Artist-in-Residence at Brandeis University’s Rose Art Museum. Heap of Birds’ work is rooted in his Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho heritage. The artist is known for his paintings, drawings, prints and educational work probing historical narratives of oppression and resilience.
Bringing Heap of Birds into the Rose will stimulate conversations about the Colonial history of Greater Boston and the resulting impact that still resonates in the cultural sector. Dr. Gannit Ankori, the Henry and Louis Foster Director and Chief Curator of the museum says, “The Rose team and I are aware that the violent dispossession, enslavement and dispersal of multiple Indigenous communities and individuals by settler Colonialism facilitated the very existence of our museum here, on this land.”
Heap of Birds often works outside of these institution structures, creating public art pieces titled “Native Hosts” that utilize the text and design of city signage to bring awareness to historical injustices and violence against Indigenous people. In partnership with the Brandeis University Library and the public arts organization Now + There, the Rose Museum will commission the first Native Hosts signs on land here in Massachusetts. The works will be installed across the Brandeis campus and throughout Boston, calling attention to the Indigenous communities that existed on this land first.
“Now + There acknowledges the deliberate and systemic oppression that has created the built environment where our projects occur,” says Kate Gilbert, Executive Director of Now + There. “We look forward to learning from and with Edgar Heap of Birds and local tribal elders to elevate the presence of past, present and future Indigenous peoples.”
Conversation lives at the center of Heap of Birds’ work. His residency at the Rose will begin this winter with a dialogue with local Indigenous communities and then open to a wider public forum. These conversations will inform the Native Hosts that Heap of Birds creates. Without communication and education, there can be no growth, and the discussion events hosted by Heap of Birds, as well as the work itself, are designed to stimulate important conversations about Native history and Colonial impact on our contemporary world.
“As we strive to repair relationships with Native peoples and the land, we commit to actively learning from, respecting and amplifying Native voices by pursuing partnerships with Indigenous artists and communities,” says Ankori. “Inviting Edgar to the Rose is but one step in this long and necessary journey.”