The New Native
September 14 – October 26, 2019
Nino Mier Gallery is pleased to present the first exhibition of American Indian artist Raven Halfmoon. Halfmoon creates powerful, often large-scale ceramic sculptures that speak to the artist’s identity as both a citizen of the Caddo Nation and as a woman. The Caddo people are renowned for ancient ceramics, with this in mind, Halfmoon utilizes the medium as a way to represent Caddo people in today’s society. Continuing a legacy of craft and clay, Halfmoon also secures her place within that tradition and cultural history. By excavating her past, as well as the history of her tribe, Halfmoon addresses the ever-relevant, but often forgotten, story of “the other,” but also the provocative questions of cultural appropriation that haunt contemporary society.
The New Native is comprised of nine ceramic heads and figures with tattoos, patterns and text. These are not necessarily self-portraits, but rather constructed identities that represent the complex relationship between culture, society and self. Many of the designs on these sculptures are culled from traditional Caddo iconography. In DO YOU SPEAK INDIAN?, red stripes run from the lips to the neck—a color that signifies wounds, war, blood and earth.. Furthermore, each work’s title is scrawled on the back of the head—glaze dripping and in all caps. Each word demands attention with the same intensity as the quiet profound gaze of each face.
In discussing her forms’ monumentality, Halfmoon cites as inspiration the colossal heads of Easter Island and Olmec culture. Hollow and built-up using coils, Halfmoon’s ceramic heads are powerful in stature and design. Black clay is layered with rounded forms the size of thumbprints, a form which is made using an ancient Caddo technique of “punctating.” The result is a distinctively textured surface. With the eye of an anthropologist, Halfmoon seeks to create a dialogue between how she represents herself and her culture and the limited way society chooses to characterize the outsider.
Raven Halfmoon (b. 1991, Norman, Oklahoma) received her B.A. in Ceramics, Painting and Anthropology from the University of Arkansas. Solo and group exhibitions include The Clay Studio, Philadelphia, Museum of Arts and Design, New York, Heide Museum of Contemporary Art, Melbourne, San Angelo Museum of Fine Art, Rocky Mountain College, Billings and Cole Art Center, Nacogdoches.