Wheel: Overlays has been conceived specifically for MOA?s Great Hall. Inspired by Native American architecture and medicine wheels, its ten semi-transparent pillars carry the outlines of forked ?tree forms? and are arranged to create a 9-meter circular space. The four surfaces of each tree are layered with words, symbolic motifs, and other markings. Together, the forms and texts chronicle the clash of Native and non-Native peoples in Colorado, with particular focus on the cosmology, history, and renewal of the Cheyenne.
?I?m there to uncover or reveal the history between the Native and the Anglo populations,? says Heap of Birds, who is of Cheyenne/Arapaho descent. ?These events changed the Native world in a very rapid and negative way forever.? Mourning, defying, exposing, honouring, renewing: the work offers a possibility of creating change through exchange, stimulating dialogue through the weapon, and regenerative tool, of art.
At 5:00 pm the same day, Mr. Heap of Birds will present a free public talk at the Frederic Wood Theatre (6354 Crescent Road, UBC). Entitled ?Wheel: Overlays? and ?Native Hosts? ? Positioning First Nations Art at UBC, the talk will focus on the installation at MOA and an outdoor art project, Native Hosts, that the artist has donated to the University Art Collection through the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery. Native Hosts consists of 12 aluminum signs referencing the relationship between First Nations and British Columbia, which eventually will be placed in 12 different locations across the UBC campus. These signs were previously exhibited on the grounds of the Vancouver Art Gallery in 1991 as part of the exhibition Lost Illusions. Language has consistently been an
important aspect of Heap of Birds? work, and these signs use text in an imaginative and disconcerting way to stimulate thoughts about issues of history, public space, land claims, and even generosity and sharing.
Edgar Heap of Birds is a Professor at the University of Oklahoma. He has been exhibiting since 1979 in the U.S, Canada, South Africa, Australia, and Europe.
Wheel: Overlays is presented by the UBC Museum of Anthropology, and curated by Karen Duffek, Curator, Contemporary Visual Arts. Mr. Heap of Birds? talk is presented by the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, the UBC Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory, and the UBC Museum of Anthropology.