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U of A hires first indigenous-artist-in-residence

Fish Griwkowsky, for the Edmonton Journal, talked to the University of Alberta’s indigenous artist-in-residence Jordan Bennett about his work and position:

In his U of A studio, marked “not your average gift shop Indian” and always occupied by his taxidermy beaver, Bennett is masterminding a few projects. He’s tattooing deer and pigskins with the exact text and logos from Safeway and Walmart bags, which he plans to bury full of groceries, then unearth and create a false archeological history of sorts. These follow the same conceptual theme as his skateboards-cut-into-snowshoe patterns and altered Vans, decorated with beads and paint — not just creating a thing, but having fun with the idea of alternate histories.

Bennett’s series of paintings called The Thing Most Precious is named after a 1985 Iron Man comic. In it, James Rhodes is having physiological issues with alcoholic and absent Tony Stark’s flying suit, and so heads to Calgary to seek out a native superhero named Shaman. (Shaman’s superhero team Alpha Flight also visited West Edmonton Mall in this era of comics.) Shaman and Iron Man go on a spirit quest through Marvel’s psychedelic interdimensional outback, which Bennett is painting on large canvasses in a direct tribute to Roy Lichtenstein, down to the Ben-Day dots. Altering the text, he’s reframing the narrative where Shaman and Iron Man go back in time to prevent encroachments of the Alberta oil industry on Shaman’s Sarcee land outside of Calgary. “In the end nothing is resolved, nothing’s changed,” he laughs.

Read the full article.

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