For those who think the Heard Museum is just about beading and dreamcatchers, artist Jacob Meders is hoping to give visitors a better insight on contemporary native art.
He and artist Alex Peña open their show resurfaced tonight at the Berlin Gallery at the Heard Museum. The event will feature live music, a wine tasting, and a talk by Meders.
Meders, who is currently earning his MFA in printmaking at ASU, gives us a little insight on his process ...
Jacob Meders in the studio
Photo courtesy of Berlin Gallery
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Your work seems to vary a lot in different styles. If you look at them side-by-side, they don't even appear to be from the same artist.
The collotypes you've created with historic drawings combined with a stereotypical Native American figurine are quite different from the bird prints. How did you get there?
I use this idea that is basically Hollywood's imagery of the western plains indian riding on horseback and shooting cowboys and maybe that's a part of some history, but not all native history. A lot of people don't understand that even today. So I took these old prints that were documenting historic events and I cropped them down and scaled them to the size of the plastic figuine and I used the names of native people who went to Europe to show we don't explain native history or history from the native perspective. These are things that only native history majors or natives know and no one else knows anything about it. I think, for me, it's about appropriation of imagery in both cases -- for the people in the images and for the natives.
It's as if you are trying to rewrite history in your own way by re-documenting events through the old-fashioned methods you use.
Yes, the collotype is the old process that deals with documentation and the old way of thinking, so then I think it works. And the handset titles help to add that feeling, too.
Why do you think you and Alex Peña were paired together for this show?
We're two emerging printmakers. Alex is Comanche and his work is very abstract and it's beautiful. I think we've taken these aesthetics of beauty and interesting color in two different directions. I think it shows the diversity of two young native artists to demonstrate what is out there and what we have to offer.
What do you think will surprise people about this show?
There are still a lot of stereotypes about what native art is and if you're not making a dream catcher, then they think it's not native art. Some people get so confused when they see more modern native art that isn't that same style. People are always making something different for a reason. There weren't always beads, they didn't come until the Europeans came, and yet people still think of that as "traditional" native art. I'd like to see more people be open to contemporary native art and to acknowledge that it's there.
The Berlin Gallery is located inside the Heard Museum, at 2301 N Central Avenue. For more information, check out the Berlin Gallery website.