Eiteljorg Musuem Blog
  • Meet the Fellows | Julie Buffalohead (Part I of V)

    by Jennifer Complo McNutt, Eiteljorg contemporary art curator | Oct 09, 2013

    Each week the Eiteljorg blog will feature a profile of artists who will be featured in RED: Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship. The exhibit opens Nov. 9. Details below!

    Julie Buffalohead (Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma)

              My recent series reflects a journey of a more personal nature. The narrative tension my work creates emanates from the Native oral tradition of storytelling, while I blend in my own distinct strands of make-believe. –Julie Buffalohead

    Julie Buffalohead dreams a world. It is a world where oppressive societal mores are reenacted, challenged, and overcome by the meek. Small animals, rabbits and raccoons, birds and bears, and even Coyote the trickster have moments of tenderness, despair, and triumph as they meander through the ambiguous spaces of Buffalohead’s paintings.  

     Fearsome Critter, 2012. Mixed media on paper. Image courtesy the Bockley Gallery.

    Heart Sick, 2012. Mixed media on paper. Image courtesy the Bockley Gallery.    

    The Medusa Syndrome, 2010. Mixed media on paper. Image courtesy the Bockley Gallery.

         The fine, facile drawings are accentuated with the modeled and measured application of paint. It is an application that creates a quiet understanding of each element it describes, be it architectural or animal. Buffalohead creates a theater in the settings of her paintings: the woods, the bathroom, and the front yard, in a sandbox or a wading pool. The understated settings are the stage for monsters of domesticity, myths of motherhood, a fairytale history of America, personal experiences, and homage to Ponca culture. All are expressed through Buffalohead’s private visual language, a language so intriguing that it transports the viewer to another worldview: hers.

         Born in 1972, Buffalohead is an enrolled member of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma. She received her bachelor of fine arts degree from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 1995 and a master of fine arts degree from Cornell University in 2001. She currently resides in Minneapolis and has received many prestigious awards, including the McKnight Foundation Fellowship for Visual Arts and a Jerome Foundation Travel and Study Grant. A prolific artist, Buffalohead pursues in her current work a tireless personal and sociopolitical investigation based on being a woman, mother, Native, and conscientious observer. 

    –Excerpt from Julie Buffalohead: Fighter of the Good Fight
    by Jennifer Complo McNutt 
    (from RED: Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship exhibition catalog).

    Schedule for opening weekend of RED:Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship
    NOV 8
    5:30–7:30 p.m.
    $40 – includes Saturday’s activities
    To commemorate the opening of RED: the Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship, the museum will honor the five Native Fellowship winners with an intimate gathering that celebrates their artistic accomplishments.  
    7:30 p.m.–12 a.m.

    Contemporary Arts Party
    $15 at the door, $10 in advance – includes Saturday’s activities
    Celebrate the opening of RED by partying all night to the sounds of A Tribe Called Red and DJ Kyle Long of the Cultural Cannibals.  Additional entertainment will be provided by the comedy improve group the 1491s, Big Car, Know No Stranger, and more!
    Tickets are available for purchase at

    NOV 9
    All Day
    RED: Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship
    Be among the first to experience RED.
    Opening Day a
    ctivities include a gallery tour with the Fellows from 10 a.m.-12 p.m and from 1–3 p.m. a presentation by comedic cultural critics, the 1491s. Saturday's event is in collaboration with the 2013 Spirit  & Place Festival. This festival reaches 20,000 people each year through dozens of “never before seen” programs that promote growth of the human spirit.

    Julie is one of five 2013 Fellows and her artwork will be featured in the exhibition RED: The Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship, opening Nov. 9. This biennial program recognizes the accomplishments of one invited and four juried Fellows, which are chosen by a panel of independent experts. As part of the Fellowship, each artist receives a $25,000 unrestricted cash award and their work is exhibited and further explored in an accompanying catalog. In addition, the museum purchases a total of over $100,000 worth of art from the Fellows for the permanent collection, adding to a body of work that has given the Eiteljorg Museum a collection of Native contemporary art that has been referred to as the “greatest in the world.”


    Go comment!

  • Why there are 62 body bags inside the Eiteljorg

    by User Not Found | Apr 25, 2013

                                    Bonnie Devine (Ojibwa),Manitoba, 2010, 62 Pandemic Body Bags

    Bonnie Devine’s work, Manitoba, is a powerful piece that is not to be missed. A prominent Canadian First Nation woman and 2011 Eiteljorg Fellow, Devine is a multi-talented sculpture and installation artist, as well as a curator and writer. Devine’s work often deals with issues of her culture, the environment and the Canadian (mis)treatment of First Nations people. Her work, Manitoba, is created with the use of 62 body bags, sent to a reservation in response to request for help during a pandemic.

    Robert Houle (Saulteaux), another prominent First Nation artist and 2003 Eiteljorg Fellow states this about Devine’s installation:

    "Manitoba is a story of surviving influenza and how pandemic body bags were callously sent to the Cree community of St. Theresa Point First Nation in northern Manitoba in 2009. The government of Canada delivered an ominous message by sending dozens of body bags in shipments of medical supplies for the H1N1 influenza pandemic. Once again, in the spirit of solidarity, Devine confronts any obstacle to human dignity with the compassionate rigor of a warrior. As a mother would take pains to comfort a child, Devine takes trauma to heal societal inequities."

    As the label in the Eiteljorg gallery reads: “This act is reminiscent of Native peoples being given blankets that were full of smallpox. Governments are clever, but rarely compassionate, especially to the first peoples (Jennifer Complo-McNutt, Eiteljorg Curator of Contemporary Art).”

    Visitors are invited to interact with the piece in a very intimate way. They can walk amongst the bags and see the individual names of reserves in Manitoba. Every person’s reaction is different. Adults often stand back in reverence or horror, confronted by the meanings of the body bags. Children are often seen running in and out of the maze-like installation or talking with adults to try and better understand the work. While every visitor’s reaction to Manitoba is different, it is definitely an installation you do not want to miss experiencing in person.

    Manitoba is one of several works installed in our contemporary galleries by Canadian First Nations artists. On display in the Harvey gallery is Home and Garden, 2009, Edward Poitras’ (Gordon First Nation) large-scale installation. In the Hurt gallery, visitors can see Faye HeavyShield’s (Kainai-Blood) quiet but powerful piece, hours.

    Have you visited Manitoba? What was your experience? Let us know in the comment space below.

    Ashley Holland

    Ashley Holland
    Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art


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