Claremont, Calif. (January 8, 2018)—Pitzer College Art Galleries’ spring 2018 exhibitions, Edgar Heap of Birds: Defend Sacred Mountains and Manifesto: A Moderate Proposal, explore the power of protest and prose as an art form. The exhibitions open on January 20, 2018, and run through March 29, 2018.
In Defend Sacred Mountains, the artist and activist Edgar Heap of Birds decries the desecration of mountains sacred to Native Americans through a series of text prints. He documents the long history and ongoing struggles over land rights at four sites: Bear’s House in Wyoming, the San Francisco Peaks in Arizona, Bear Butte in South Dakota, and Mauna Kea in Hawaii. Through dozens of monoprints, Heap of Birds shows how sacred grounds are turned into playgrounds. Exhibited in Pitzer’s Nichols Gallery, Defend Sacred Mountains is co-curated by Pitzer Galleries Director Ciara Ennis and Pitzer Professor of Art Bill Anthes, whose 2015 book Edgar Heap of Birds was the first book-length study of the Cheyenne-Arapaho artist.
“Defend Sacred Mountains’ message is ecological, spiritual and political,” Ennis and Anthes say. “Pitzer College Art Galleries is helping Edgar Heap of Birds deliver that message.”
In a white-on-red monoprint bearing the words MOUNT RUSH MORE POUND SPIKES IN, Heap of Birds draws a parallel between Mt. Rushmore, where it’s forbidden to climb the famous rock faces, and Bear’s House, commonly known as Devils Tower, an 875-foot-tall butte that has been a sacred site to Northern Great Plains Native Americans for thousands of years and today is visited by more than 5,000 climbers annually.
Heap of Birds similarly calls attention to waste water runoff that soaks the land where members of the Diné/Navajo tribes gather medicinal and ceremonial plants near the San Francisco Peaks in Arizona. He rebukes the aftermath of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally that unfolds on the hallowed land around Bear Butte in South Dakota, and sets his sights on the telescopes planted on the summit of Mauna Kea, one of the most sacred places in the Hawaiian Islands.
The artist sums up the unifying theme of Defend Sacred Mountains in his monoprint that reads: “WE ARE LAND LAND IS US.”
A survey of the work of Edgar Heap of Birds can also be viewed at Garis & Hahn art gallery in Los Angeles from February 10 to March 10, 2018.
In Pitzer’s Lenzner Family Art Gallery, Manifesto: A Moderate Proposal also articulates the importance of taking a position, sharing ideas and challenging the status quo. More than 70 citizens lent their voices to Manifesto, including established writers, inmates, professors, developmentally disabled students, professors and artists who make their viewpoints manifest through works on paper, cloth, ceramics and neon. In the exhibition, the multi-media presentations of their opinions hang next to one another, floor-to-ceiling, in sections that reflect themes ranging from immigration and gentrification to race and religion.
Ennis, who curated the show with Jennifer Vanderpool, describes Manifesto “as an exhibition of the ideas, wishes and demands of scores of citizens with something to say and a need to be heard.”
“It is our current climate of discord that created Manifesto: A Moderate Proposal,” she said. “It was conceived to give us all a platform to speak.”
Funded by a National Endowment for the Arts grant, Manifesto: A Moderate Proposal is an outlet for both dissent and accord. With the public sphere embroiled in a seemingly intractable contest of us-versus-them, Ennis said, it is time to reexamine who we are and what we stand for.
“MANIFESTO: A Moderate Proposal joins that conversation,” Ennis said.
Opening Reception for Defend Sacred Mountains and Manifesto: A Moderate Proposal
January 20, 3-5 p.m.
Nichols Gallery, Pitzer College
Annual Murray Pepper and Vicki Reynolds Pepper Distinguished Visiting Artists and Scholars Lecture featuring Edgar Heap of Birds
January 23, 4:15 p.m.
Benson Auditorium, Pitzer College
March 23, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
Benson Auditorium, Pitzer College
The Manifesto Symposium will include panels on immigration and gentrification, workshops and lectures.