Claremont, Calif. (August 24, 2015)— Professor of Art Bill Anthes’ Edgar Heap of Birds is the first book-length study of the Native American artist Edgar Heap of Birds, whose multi-media work is rooted in Cheyenne spirituality and an indigenous way of seeing the world. The book will be published by Duke University Press in September.
Anthes analyzes Edgar Heap of Birds’ art and politics in relation to the international contemporary art scene, Native American history and settler colonialism. He describes how Edgar Heap of Birds likens his art to “sharp rocks”—weapons delivering trenchant critiques of Native Americans’ loss of land, life and autonomy. Edgar Heap of Birds’ artworks pose questions about time, modernity, identity, power and the meaning and value of contemporary art in a global culture.
“I have followed Edgar Heap of Birds’ artwork for over 20 years, and I have always found his works to be challenging and important,” Anthes said. “For me as a non-native westerner—a descendent of settlers and immigrants—Heap of Birds’ works offer quick and disorienting history lessons. They also stand as a powerful testimony to the vitality of indigenous knowledge in the contemporary world, and of art as a critical and activist practice.”
Early reviews highlight the significance of both Heap of Birds’ art and Anthes’ approach to the artist’s work:
“So often we fail to look carefully or describe the works of Native American artists in depth, but tend instead to look through them to some plane of political meaning to which they presumably grant passage,” said author Jane Blocker. “Bill Anthes, by contrast, lingers on and deeply engages with Edgar Heap of Birds’ work, filling a gaping hole in contemporary art scholarship.”
“Bill Anthes impressively appreciates the technical virtuosity Heap of Birds revels in…and the great joy, humor and hope that have long fueled the art Edgar Heap of Birds makes,” said Robert Warrior, editor of The World of Indigenous North America.
Bill Anthes is an interdisciplinary scholar with a background in studio art, art history and American studies. He teaches and writes about art in terms of multimedia practice and intercultural exchange. His book Native Moderns: American Indian Painting 1940-1960 was published by Duke University Press in 2006.