Truth-Telling: Voices of First People

Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds
(Cheyenne/Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho)

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Columbus Day
Water is Your Only Medicine
Why is Immigration Dictated by Foreigners?
Our Red Nations Were Always Green

Artwork Descriptions

My recent  7’ x 30’ large scale 48 piece mono print installations exist in two combined forms. This method has my expressive notions as a set of 24 primary prints accompanied by 24 ghost prints. The primary mono prints are the first pull from the printmaking plate and the ghost prints are executed from the second plate pull and also enlist the use of varied colors of paper.

  Most important, concerning this ghosting process, is the conceptual stance that the United States of America does not accept Native Indigenous Nations, their history and the brutal holocaust perpetrated on our Nations by the ruling republic. This overriding disinterest, lack of understanding and ignorance is represented in the ghost monoprints with the often faint color, blurred text or sometimes very obscured image treatment. The primary mono prints are very strong, bright and often bold thus articulating the true way Indigenous life develops, grows and survives in spite of the American empire.

 With this effort I am sharing four mono print installations that seek to challenge and inform the republic and its citizens. This body of work, proving our aboriginal survival, can begin to be felt from the four titles: Columbus Day, Why is Immigration Dictated by Foreigners, Our Red Nations Were Always Green and Water is Your Only Medicine.

Columbus Day, 2019-20

Columbus Day was created in response to research conducted from a trip to the Dominican Republic, as well as many years of empathy towards the immense destruction brought by Columbus to this indigenous hemisphere.

Water is Your Only Medicine, 2019-20

Water is Your Only Medicine, these words came from the Standing Rock siege to protect wonderful rivers and our renewal of existence via water. As we begin as gestated children in the womb to drinking Mahpe and growth of exquisite life through it’s daily irreplaceable support, water must remain our primary homage.

Why is Immigration Dictated by Foreigners?, 2019-20

Why is Immigration Dictated by Foreigners?, this artwork comments on the tragic actions of the U.S. republic in harming so many people and children of color. The behavior to restrict and penalize those involved in immigrating is such a paradox when one considers that all the U.S. lawmakers (including the former president) are themselves foreign to Turtle Island.

Our Red Nations Were Always Green, 2019-20

Our Red Nations Were Always Green, North America is home to over 1000 Native Nations. Each of these large and precious communities is incredibly humble and respectful to our host, the natural world. The citizens of these Native Nations express great care towards the planet and defer to Earth as the more important entity. As in the sacred pipe ceremony the Earth  should always smoke first.


Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds, Native Hosts (Video 6:14 min)

Subject Matters: Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds (Video 4:50 min)

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From the Edge of Lake Toba, Northern Sumatra, Indonesia. Photographer, Batak Tribal Member

Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds is a leader of the Cheyenne Elk Warrior Society, an Elder, and Medicine Man. He is also a historian, professor and basketball enthusiast. His artistic aesthetic includes conceptual text art, public works, abstraction, and personal, creative explorations.

Heap of Birds takes a two-pronged approach using his art to speak truth about Native Americans in this settler state. First, he honors the history and  the spirit of Native people with his public art and his printmaking; second, he focuses his aesthetic investigations into sensuality, and abstraction. With this two-pronged approach Heap of Bird says he doesn’t serve the white man's interest or fascination in Native people. As he states, this ensures that via his work, "We're seen as both individuals, and also as a collective Native people." He goes on to state, "Being Native isn't a head-space. It isn't like a 'mood' I got, or I'm in a mood for it."

For Heap of Birds being a Cheyenne/Arapaho Elder means giving back to the tribe; to be tribal means taking care of one another. The knowledge of the traditional ways must be shared with future generations. A part of his work as a culture bearer is transferring historical knowledge to younger men so that they can carry on.

Heap of Birds' first text-based, conceptual art project, a billboard in Times Square entitled In Our Language, was created in the 1980s. This particular genre, whether in his public art or, in museums and galleries is a way of confrontation. The message(s) of his work cannot be denied or deflected by the viewer. According to Heap of Birds by using words, once they're read, they've already internalized. Even if viewers turn away they still have to deal with what their brains have visually received.

Heap of Birds is a lover of all things ‘basketball.’ Whether playing streetball in his youth, to now being a season ticket holder for the Oklahoma City Thunder, he is seriously into the game. One of his new projects is with the New York City-based nonprofit Project Backboard. Project Backboard is responsible for invigorating neighborhoods by redesigning public basketball courts with imagery from large-scale artworks. They've chosen two of Heap of Birds' paintings for two separate basketball courts in Queens. The project is scheduled for completion for next year in 2022.

*Edgar's cover page photo credit: Ted West

Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds' Contact Information:

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