Marking Time: Heidi Brandow + Luzene Hill

Page 1


JANUARY 11 - MARCH 26, 2021 Ucross Art Gallery

APRIL 8 - JUNE 27, 2021 Yellowstone Art Museum

The mission of Ucross Foundation is to foster the creative spirit of deeply committed artists and groups by providing uninterrupted time, studio space, living accommodations, and the experience of Wyoming’s majestic High Plains while serving as a responsible steward of the foundation’s historic 20,000-acre ranch.

Ucross Foundation acknowledges with respect that it is situated on the aboriginal land of several Indigenous communities, including the Cheyenne, Crow, and Lakota nations. Indigenous people continue to live in this area and practice their teachings and lifeways. Today, this region remains an important place for many Indigenous peoples. As a Wyoming institution, we recognize and respect this historical context and are working to build reciprocal relationships with the Native nations on whose lands we are situated. In partial fulfillment of that commitment, Ucross established a Fellowship for Native American Visual Artists in 2017, which expanded to include Native American writers in 2020.

It is a great honor to present the work of distinguished visual artists Heidi Brandow (Diné/Kanaka Maoli) and Luzene Hill (Eastern Band of Cherokee) at the Ucross Art Gallery. This exhibition is the culmination of their 2019 Ucross Fellowships for Native American Visual Artists, but we hope it also represents another step in significant relationships between the artists and our organization. We are grateful that Brandow and Hill participated in the process of drafting of our new Ucross Land Acknowledgment this summer, along with Fellowship winners Teresa Baker (Mandan/Hidatsa), Brenda Mallory (Cherokee Nation), and Sydney Pursel (Ioway Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska). We look forward to listening to their voices—and those of all our Fellowship winners—so they can continue to inform our efforts at Ucross. Ucross has been supporting artists through the gift of uninterrupted time and space since 1983. We know that the impact of residencies reverberates through both professional and personal lives. As Luzene Hill told us after her Ucross residency, “The luxury of doing focused work in my studio allowed me to push my work further. This activity, combined with the creative and intellectual stimulation of other residents, enhanced my sense of self, as an artist and a woman. . . . The respectful, accepting atmosphere gave me enormous creative freedom and confidence.” Heidi Brandow noted, “The seclusion and solitude were exactly what I needed in terms of realigning my creative goals and developing new ideas. . . . This ‘realignment period’ at Ucross was tremendously helpful in reminding me of who I am and what my arts practice is about at this point in my career.” We are honored that the Yellowstone Art Museum in Billings, Montana, recognizes the importance of the Ucross Fellowship for Native American Visual Artists and will showcase this exhibition at their institution in 2021. We remain grateful to Brandow and Hill for their dedication to creating new work and bringing it to the world. Thanks also to Suzanne Fricke, who has written the exhibition essay, and our many donors in the area and beyond. We offer special gratitude to the Wyoming Arts Council, which has supported this exhibition through funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Wyoming Legislature. We thank the Ucross Board of Trustees for their vision, generosity, and ongoing efforts on behalf of Ucross. We are extremely fortunate to be part of such a vibrant arts ecosystem.

Sharon Dynak President, Ucross Foundation


GoH002, gouache, ink, charcoal on paper, 2019, 11 x 12 inches (detail), Luzene Hill Something About Her, mixed media on panel, 2019, 18.5 x 8.5 x 2.5 inches (detail), Heidi Brandow


Untitled, tea stain, ink, charcoal on paper, 2017, 14 x 11 inches (detail), Luzene Hill Currently, mixed media on panel, 2019, 10 x 24 x 2 inches (detail), Heidi Brandow


GoH0010, ink on paper, 2019, 12 x 9 inches, Luzene Hill GoH0012, tea stain, ink, charcoal on paper, 2019, 11 x 14 inches, Luzene Hill


GoH003, teas stain, ink, charcoal on paper, 2019, 11 x 14 inches, Luzene Hill Missing . . ., beeswax, cochineal dyed China silk, Cherokee antique basket installation, 2018, variable dimensions, Luzene Hill

INTRODUCTION Suzanne Newman Fricke, PhD Gallery Hózhó at Hotel Chaco

The exhibition Marking Time: Heidi Brandow + Luzene Hill showcases art from the 2019 winners of the Ucross Fellowship for Native American Visual Artists, two artists with distinct aesthetics, materials, and subject matter, yet both demonstrating how a simple brushstroke or a single line can evoke a sense of place or a specific history. Every element in their work, from the choice of color or media, illustrates their unique worldviews, sharing personal narratives as well as addressing larger issues that shape their lives. Cherokee multimedia artist Luzene Hill applied for the Ucross residency on the advice of her friend, Brenda Mallory (Cherokee), a previous recipient of the award. Luzene appreciated the beauty of the space, observing, “The sky was so beautiful. There was a creek nearby where deer would come. It was heaven.” The setting helped the artist focus on her art and stay open and sensitive to the world to make her art. For example, her ink drawings often work with elements of chance, allowing the ink to pool and flow across the paper organically, absorbing more and less densely across the page. For the exhibition, Luzene’s Missing . . . , an installation about violence against women, works in tandem with drawings from a series called Now that the Gates of Hell Are Closed. While a college student, a male professor would begin class by asking all the women in the front row to cross their legs, then saying, “Now that the Gates of Hell are closed class can begin.” His casual sexualization of his female students, holding all women

accountable for male desire, disconcerted Luzene and the memory inspired these drawings (made during her Ucross Residency) of crossed legs, then uncrossed legs. Luzene created the installation Missing . . . for the show Bring Her Home held at All My Relations, a gallery in Minneapolis, Minnesota, focused on Native American artists. The piece calls attention to the missing and murdered Indigenous women in the United States and Canada, who are murdered at a rate 10 times higher than other ethnicities. Most attacks are committed on Native lands by non-Native people and, due to the complicated relationship between state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies, few murders are properly investigated. For Luzene, the issue is more than political as she had been brutally attacked and raped. For Missing . . . , Luzene placed a beeswax figure of a woman on top of a pedestal, with legs pointing up and split apart, head back, with no arms. During her attack, she felt powerless to fight back as if her arms did not work, unable to fight back or reach her attacker’s face. A red strip of silk fabric extends from the figure to the base as if the body is bleeding, and around the pedestal, she placed 574 strips of China silk, one for each federally recognized Native American tribe in the United States. Luzene cut the fabric to be the length of her arm, to symbolically return her reach. The fabric strips were dyed blood-red using cochineal dye, which was first used in Central Mexico by the Mayan and Aztec peoples. Cochineal dye is made by crushing insects found on prickly pear cactuses to release its carminic acid, which

is the female insects’ natural defense. After Spanish conquest, cochineal was hoarded to fill Spain’s coffers as the dye became popular around the world. To bring the audience into the work, Luzene made additional strips she placed in a woven Cherokee basket near the installation for visitors to add if they wanted to include their own experience of violence. Raised in Hawaii and Dinétah, Heidi Brandow is from a long line of Native Hawaiian singers, musicians, and performers on her mother’s side and Diné storytellers and medicine people on her father’s. Her family emphasized education. After completing her degree from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Heidi studied industrial design at Istanbul Technical University in Turkey then attended the Harvard Graduate School of Design in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As with Luzene, the Ucross residency affected Heidi. During the drive to Ucross, she explored important sites from Native American history, noting where different peoples lived, where battles and massacres took place. She arrived at Ucross after her time in Turkey, exhausted by her studies and needing to rest. To restore herself, she took long walks and explored the grounds since the land “had a way of stripping me down” with its immensity. It left her open to rethinking her approach. She saw a carcass on a trailhead, which she passed daily and watched slowly decomposing as it returned to the earth, which inspired Heidi to return to the bones of her art practice. She remembered, “I truly love making marks. I was reminding myself that these are the things I like to do.” Known for her use of whimsical characters, bright colors, and lacquered surface, Heidi's work is full of joy in mark-making and process, applying resin to create the shiny surface. Yet the underpinnings of her approach are from a more analytical side. When she started college, she was a computer science major and she

studied different fields in science, including microbiology and molecular biology. She worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratories in northern New Mexico. For Heidi, “there was never this separation between fields,” not art vs. science, but art and science. Her paintings in the exhibition are variations on a theme. Heidi created a series of narrow canvases oriented vertically and divided into four sections, similar to a cross-section. Heidi placed a skull on top with a pattern behind; placing the head on top made sense for the artist. The next layer has more bones, either a femur or humorous, a reminder of the carcass she found. Under the bones, she drew calligraphic lines, a form of mark-making that can show identity like a signature. Along the bottom, she challenged herself to paint pairs of gesticulating hands. Hands are always difficult to draw so it tested her skills. In these paintings, she experimented with different techniques, applying acrylic with a dry brush to show the movement of the brush and to allow paint colors underneath to show through. The images in these paintings suggest a dialog more than a narrative, linked together to evoke a place and a feeling. For both Luzene and Heidi, the Ucross Fellowship for Native American Visual Artists provided much needed time to recuperate and renew their art practice, returning to what they love while challenging themselves to create something new. Taken together, their works explore how form creates content – how a mark gives meaning. Suzanne Newman Fricke has a PhD in Native American art history. For the past 25 years, she has taught art history at different universities, including the University of New Mexico and the Institute of American Indian Arts, has curated a number of museum shows that have traveled through the US and internationally, and has published in different magazines and anthologies.


Valleys, mixed media on panel, 2019, 6 x 6 x 2 inches, Heidi Brandow


Enter longing idiom here ________., mixed media on panel, 2019, 12 x 8 x 2.5 inches, Heidi Brandow

The rain, all night., mixed media on panel, 2019, 10 x 24 x 2 inches, Heidi Brandow


For centuries the majestic prairies nestled closely to the Bighorn Mountain range have bear witness to the violent history of Wyoming’s Indigenous people. These stories remain embedded within the landscape and command the deepest respect and reverence. The meaningless jumble of thoughts that had accompanied me to the property upon my arrival slowly began to fall away with every hike and walk I embarked on. Each step alongside and within the long prairie grass drew me closer to sweeping perspectives of an endless landscape that met the limitless expanse of the sky. If there were ever a truth serum, those lands had a way of getting to my core. Those experiences followed me into the studio as I began to strip away layers that had overcomplicated my approach to making art. “Departures” is a return to the foundational elements of my creative practice. This series became a departure from my usual artistic style and a segue toward new forms and patterns. Abstract expressionist, Mark Rothko, once said, “Many of those that are driven to this life are desperately searching for those pockets of silence where we can root and grow. We must all hope we find them.” For me, that pocket of silence came from the landscape of Ucross.

Heidi K. Brandow is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work is commonly filled with whimsical characters and monsters that are often combined with words of poetry, stories, and personal reflections. Hailing from a long line of Native Hawaiian singers, musicians, and performers on her mother’s side and Diné storytellers and medicine people on her father’s side, she has found that her pursuit of a career in the arts was a natural progression. Primarily a painter, printmaker, and social practice artist, Brandow’s work is centered on the inclusion of Indigenous people, and perspectives in the development of ethical and sustainable methods of creative engagement. Heidi K. Brandow is a graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts, studied Industrial Design at Istanbul Technical University, and is currently a Master of Design Studies in Art, Design, and the Public Domain at the Harvard Graduate School of Design in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


Vulnerability is a recurring theme in my work.

floating revealing

Transformation, both physical and psychological,


interests me. The process of change - voluntary or


imposed, subtle or wrenching – is, paradoxically,

no barriers

a constant in life. I explore this fluid experience

no masks

through media that are tentative, fleeting, easily

no facades

altered or destroyed. The materials I employ paper, ink, charcoal, beeswax – are fragile and


capricious, qualities that define my view of life.


My work explores journeys – making our way

merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream

through life - vulnerability expressed by the negative space in which figures and shapes exist. Our paths dip and wind through encounters, exploration, danger, disappointment; eventually straying into uncharted areas of ourselves . . . resilience transformation transcendence spontaneous sensual erotic sublime minimal subtle red fragile open open open open up open to open out experience opening openings flowing

Luzene Hill is a multi-media artist, best known for socially engaged conceptual installations and performances. Her work reflects interdisciplinary scholarship in visual art, women's studies, Native American culture - topics that are integral to her background and personal journey. Through work informed by pre-contact culture of the Americas Hill advocates for indigenous sovereignty - linguistic, cultural and personal sovereignty. These concepts form the basis for her installations, performance, drawings and artist's books. Recent work, employing indigenous matrilineal motifs, asserts female agency and challenges male dictated hierarchies. An enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Hill lives and works in Atlanta, Georgia. Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States, as well as in Canada, Russia, Japan and the United Kingdom. Her awards include the 2019 Ucross Fellowship, the 2016 Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Fellowship in Visual Arts, the 2015 Eiteljorg Museum Fellowship and 2015 First Peoples Fund Fellowship. Hill's work is featured in Susan Powers' book, "Cherokee Art: Prehistory to Present" and in Josh McPhee's book, "Celebrate People's History!: The Poster Book of Resistance and Revolution", and the PBS Documentary, “Native Art NOW!”.

MARKING TIME Heidi Brandow + Luzene Hill

Ucross Art Gallery

2 01 9 U C R OSS N AT I V E A M E R I C A N F E L LOWS

JANUARY 11 - MARCH 26, 2021

APRIL 8 - JUNE 27, 2021 Yellowstone Art Museum

FRIDAY, MARCH 26, 2021 Closing reception 5:00 – 7:00 pm with artists Event is free and open to the public.

The exhibition is supported in part by the Wyoming Arts Council, through funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Wyoming State Legislature and through contributions from The Homer A. & Mildred S. Scott Foundation, Deborah Anspach & Dr. John Hanson, and Dr. Donald & Carol Roberts. © 2021 Ucross Foundation. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the Foundation. Ucross Foundation is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization and all contributions are tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law.

2401 N. 27th Street, Billings, MT 59101


Non profit ORG U.S. Postage PAID Clearmont, WY Permit No. 2 |

30 Big Red Lane, Clearmont, WY 82835

307.737.2291 |

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.