February 22, 2012

Beat Nation and Maria Hupfield

One of my favorite artists is Maria Hupfield. I first came to know of Hupfield's work when my friend Amber-Dawn Bear Robe lassoed Hupfield into submitting some art for Red Ink Magazine back in 2005.

Hupfield is of Anishnaabe (Ojibway) heritage, and a member of Wasauksing First Nation, in Ontario. She works with photography, sculpture, installation and performance art. Last August, a group of us were participants in Vestige Vagabond - a public art performance by Hupfield and Charlene Vickers held during the annual Santa Fe Indian Market (left).

Using clothing and other items drawn from the usual mainstream representations of Native Americans (such as fringe and braids), Hupfield and Vickers involved the tourist art market audience to question and comment on objects, aesthetics, functionality, and value systems. (Click here to read Cherokee artist and art historian Lara Evans' review of the performance.)

Hupfield's work will also be on display, along with other Native American/First Nations artists, at the upcoming Beat Nation: Art, Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture show at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Beat Nation highlights artists who fuse urban pop culture movements with Aboriginal identity. The press release explains, "While this exhibition takes its starting point from hip hop, it branches out to include artists who use pop culture, graffiti, fashion and other signifiers of urban life in combination with more traditional forms of Aboriginal identity."

Hupfield's section of the show will feature a series of new work based on her performance art explorations in Brooklyn over the past two years.

She states, "Using found and handmade items I locate the body as a site of resistance and agency through movement, repetition and sound. It is through my work that I insert myself into new conversations with objects functioning as tools; bones quantify cultural memory, bear masks channel connection with the natural world, jingle boots track basic body rhythms and blankets signal survival." (Click here to read more at Hupfield's website.)

Beat Nation opens Saturday, February 25, but if you're a VAG member, you can get a sneak preview the evening before, and catch the FUSE show that night when "Art, Hip Hop and Aboriginal culture take over the Gallery." Plans for an after AFTER party are also brewing.

Join Kathleen Ritter, associate curator, and independent curator Tania Willard for a tour of the Beat Nation exhibition on Saturday, February 25, at 2pm.