Artist Frank Buffalo Hyde (Onondaga/Nez Perce) believes it is the artist’s responsibility to represent the times in which they live. Transforming street art techniques into fine art practices, his humorous and biting narrative artworks do exactly that. In I-Witness Culture, Hyde investigates the space where Native Americans exist today: between the ancient and the new; between the accepted truth and actual fact; between the known and the unknown.
By connecting historical references to contemporary popular culture, Frank Buffalo Hyde confronts representations of Native peoples in the 21st century. In a nation obsessed with sameness—afraid of difference—popular culture often homogenizes Indigenous cultures, “honoring” Native peoples with fashion lines, misogynistic music videos, or offensive mascots and Halloween costumes. Today, these stereotypes and romantic notions are being challenged as a new generation of Native American artists uses social media to let the world know who they are: today, we are the observers, as well as the observed. We are here, we are educated, and we define Indian art.
Documenting the experience of Native American existence in the digital “selfie” age, I-Witness Culture explores technology as a tool of Indigenous activism, a means to document, and a form of validation. For Hyde, and for a new generation of Native American artists, technology and social media lets the world know who they are.
This exhibition has been organized by the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture/Laboratory of Anthropology, Santa Fe, NM and circulated through GuestCurator Traveling Exhibitions.