Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds
“His words grab. They compel repeating and turning over in one’s mind, teasing out the numerous possible meanings, opening new perspectives on unexamined histories, places and ideas. These are words that ask questions or make us ask them—words that work.” —Bill Anthes, Edgar Heap of Birds (Duke University Press, 2015)
Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds, an accomplished artist and advocate for Indigenous communities, presents “Edgar Heap of Birds, Spirit Citizen: Provocative Native American Public Art and Studio Practice” for Tuesday Evenings at the Modern. As tribal elder, Edgar Heap of Birds serves as an instructor/painter in the traditional Cheyenne Earth Renewal Ceremony at Concho, Oklahoma and is one of the leaders of the Cheyenne Elk Scraper Warrior Society. While representing Indigenous communities, his art focuses first on social justice and the personal freedom to live within the tribal circle as an expressive individual. Art historian Bill Anthes notes in his 2015 book on the artist, “Edgar Heap of Birds’ works are challenging and important. They offer quick and disorienting history lessons and stand as a powerful testimony to the vitality of indigenous knowledge in the contemporary world. Moreover, they embody the idea of art as a critical and activist practice.”
Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds is recognized for work exhibited internationally in the world’s most renowned institutions, such as the Cheyenne and Arapaho Nations Reservation in Oklahoma; Documenta, Kassal, Germany; Grand Palais, Paris; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Institute of Education Gallery, Singapore; Orchard Gallery, Northern Ireland; Site Santa Fe Museum, New Mexico; and the 52nd Venice Biennale (2007). His work has been collected by the Library of Congress, Washington, DC; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate, England; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York—as well as the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.
Heap of Birds has taught at Yale University, the University of Capetown, South Africa, and the University of Oklahoma, where he is now Professor Emeritus. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas and an MFA from the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. He has also completed graduate-level study at the Royal College of Art, London. Heap of Birds has been awarded honorary doctor of fine arts and letters degrees from CalArts, Santa Clarita; Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Vancouver, Canada; and Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston.