Kade Twist on California Condors, Cherokee Culture, and His Latest Exhibition at Harry Wood Gallery in Tempe

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If you have a fear of large birds, prep yourself before checking out local artist Kade Twist's latest exhibition.

It's Easy to Live With Promises If You Believe They Are Only Ideas is a video installation with accompanying sound at ASU's Harry Wood Gallery in Tempe. Images of California condors in federal government recovery programs are projected onto the walls and onto a small central pedestal in an empty room.

The somewhat eerie footage of the condors (in one frame, a group of these gigantic birds is devouring a whale carcass) can certainly lead to a sense of unease; but it's all a part of Twist's plan to get us thinking.

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Twist says the condor has connections to his own Cherokee heritage: "The work is inspired by Suli, the great buzzard of Cherokee cosmogony, whose wings created the mountains and valleys of Cherokee homelands."

It's not the first time Twist has used that figure as inspiration for his work -- see his series Buzzard Via Satellite. Suli, he says, became a vehicle of expression for the his higher-reaching concepts because Suli "is also one of the archetypal tricksters and protagonists of Cherokee stories, particularly the stories that address issues of cultural, economic and ecological sustainability."

Balancing on the brink of extinction, the California condor brings to light some of the issues of artifice that come with regulation of the natural world. (The condors are implanted with tracking devices so that they can be monitored even after they are released into the wild).

Twist made regular trips to Big Sur, California to capture his sweeping footage of the condors in everyday life: feasting upon their prey or flying over the costal terrain. Even in these kinds of awe-inspiring nature shots, you can still see the tags on the condors' wings--the imagery is moving whether you are a bird enthusiast or not.

The work could easily be taken at face value as an incredibly impressive piece of nature videography, but its alternating moments of intensity and subtlety beg you to join in the dialogue articulated on the walls.

Kade Twist's Master of Fine Arts thesis exhibition It's Easy to Live With Promises If You Believe They Are Only Ideas is open through October 5 at ASU's Harry Wood Gallery.

For more information check out the ASU event page.

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