Pitzer College’s Art+Environment program kicked off its inaugural year with a public art installation by Edgar Heap of Birds, the program’s first artist-in-residence and an internationally-recognized contemporary artist. The installation, Native Hosts, will be on display for two years in various locations across Pitzer’s campus.
Native Hosts honors the Tongva, indigenous people whose ancestral homelands lie in the Los Angeles area. Created with local Tongva elders, Native Hosts features signs displaying the names of traditional villages and sacred sites. Pitzer Associate Professor of Art History Bill Anthes describes the artwork as, “a point of conversation for members of our campus community and visitors to the campus about our local ‘hosts’ in Southern California.”
“A goal of the art+environment program is to think expansively about how we interact with non-human nature, and how art can help us imagine other possible relationships between humans and the environment,” said Anthes, the director of art+environment. “Edgar’s work with the indigenous Tongva, who have known these lands for generations and for whom geography is deeply spiritual, is a fitting beginning for our program.”
A member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, Heap of Birds is a professor of Native American studies at the University of Oklahoma. His artwork has appeared in numerous museums, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Australia.