Wendy Red Star’s socially critical installation draws inspiration and employs imagery from growing up on the Crow Indian Reservation in south-central Montana. Historic photographs and regalia are juxtaposed with tapestries, text, and objects she has constructed to re-humanize a past tribal leader whose image has been appropriated for commercial use. Photographs of Chief Medicine Crow (c. 1848-1920) were taken in Washington, D.C., when he and four other tribal leaders were coerced into signing a treaty ceding a portion of tribal lands to the United States Government. His image has frequently been used to represent a stereotypical, nameless, Indian “brave.” Red Star’s newest installation is an extension of her earlier work, which employed gender-focused, political self-imagery, not unlike the art of Cindy Sherman, Ana Mendieta, and Frida Kahlo, to draw attention to the marginalization of Native Americans. In APEX, by replicating a historical museum diorama, she names and honors Medicine Crow, and revises the white man’s historical paradigm.
APEX is an ongoing series of exhibitions of Northwest-based artists, curated by Bonnie Laing-Malcolmson, The Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Curator of Northwest Art.
The APEX series is supported in part by The Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Endowments for Northwest Art and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.