DECEMBER 12, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Dec. 12, 2016 (Santa Fe, NM)—Investigating the space between the ancient and the new, where Native Americans live today, “I-Witness Culture,” is an exhibition of fourteen paintings and three sculptures by Native American artist Frank Buffalo Hyde (Onondaga/Nez Perce) opening at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture.
Transforming street art techniques into fine art practices, Frank Buffalo Hyde’s humorous and acerbic narrative artworks in I-Witness Culture, investigate the space between the accepted truth and the truth; between the known and the unknown. The contemporary narrative is divided into three sections—Paranormal: The Truth is Out There; Selfie Skndns; and In-Appropriate. The exhibition will open on February 3, 2017 and runs through January 7, 2018.
Frank Buffalo Hyde believes it is the artist’s responsibility to represent the times in which they live. Pre-millennium, for many people, Native Americans were almost extinct, existing only in the past in black and white photos, their lands gone. Post-millennium, Native Americans are part of the digital age, the selfie age, where if something hasn’t been posted to social media, it never happened. Mankind is now sharing information at a rate never possible in human history, experiencing reality filtered through electronic devices. Today’s Native artists use technology as a tool of Indigenous activism, a means to document, and a form of validation.
Documenting the experience of Native American’s existence in the digital age—the ‘selfie’ age— “I-Witness Culture” explores technology as a tool of Indigenous activism. For Hyde, and this new generation of Native American artists, social media lets the world know who they are.
“If I can get someone’s attention about stereotypes and perceptions of contemporary Native art, I’ll have done my job,” Hyde was once quoted saying to a reporter.
Debunking stereotypes is the hallmark of Hyde’s style. Born part of a generation of children of mixed tribal origins, Hyde’s awareness of how Native Americans are depicted outside of their communities grew as he did, honing his humorous, poignant style, critiquing the commercialization of culture. In a nation obsessed with sameness—afraid of difference—popular culture continues to homogenize indigenous cultures into fashion lines, misogynistic music videos, offensive mascots or Halloween costumes.
“Today, these stereotypes and romantic notions are irrelevant as a new generation of Native American artists use social media to let the world know who they are,” Hyde said. “Today, we are the observers, as well as the observed. We are here, we are educated, and we define Indian art, he said.
Born in 1974 in Santa Fe, Frank Buffalo Hyde (b.1974) grew up in central New York on the Onondaga Reservation. He returned to New Mexico to study at the Santa Fe Fine Arts Institute and the Institute of American Indian Arts from 1993-1996. In 2009, Hyde was awarded a solo exhibition at the Wheelwright Museum in Santa Fe. In 2012, Hyde was an artist in residence at the Museum of Contemporary Native American Art.
“When working on a piece, I tap into the universal mind. The collective unconsciousness of the 21st century. Drawing images from advertisement, movies, television, music and politics. Expressing observation, as well as knowledge through experience,” Hyde is quoted on his website, “Overlapping imagery to mimic the way the mind holds information: non -linear and without separation. “I don’t need permission to make what I make. Never have...no artist should.”
About the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture As the 19th century closed, one of the Southwest’s major "attractions" was its vibrant Native American cultures. In response to unsystematic collecting by Eastern museums, anthropologist Edgar Lee Hewett founded the Museum of New Mexico in 1909 with a mission to collect and preserve Southwest Native American material culture. Several years later, in 1927, John D. Rockefeller founded the renowned Laboratory of Anthropology with a mission to study the Southwest’s indigenous cultures. In 1947 the two institutions merged, bringing together the most inclusive and systematically acquired collection of New Mexican and Southwestern anthropological artifacts in the country.