New Pop Art Brings Native Cultures Together

“Native Pop energizes Indian country’s art scene with bold color and iconic images, offers platform for activism. The organizers behind Native Pop hunted for “hardcore, cutting-edge” indigenous artists to form their collective. The idea was to educate the public that Native people do more than traditional arts and crafts; they also make progressive art that’s intelligent and provocative.” K. Butler, ICTMN

Excerpt:   World Goes Wild for ‘Raw, In-Your-Face’ Native Pop Art, Kristin Butler, ICTMN

“The unified voices also strengthen the dialogue that Native people are still here. ‘We’re still relevant,’ says Brent Learned, Cheyenne/Arapaho, the award-winning artist and leading organizer of Native Pop. ‘We want our voices to be heard.’

More than two years ago, Learned tapped multi-media artist Joe Hopkins to help him bring Native Pop to life. The pair compared lists of the best pop artists in Native circles, starting with the most prominent names in the pop art world in Indian country, like Bunky Echo-Hawk, Steven Paul Judd,  George Curtis Levi,  Joshua Garrett, J. NiCole Hatfield  and Oneka M. Jones. Each artist brings a unique style to the table. They’re very sought-after artists, and not only that, their craft is well defined.

Beyond tribal affiliations, the common thread between the various Native Pop artists is pop art. Learned and Hopkins are quick to point out the distinction between pop and contemporary art. The two genres can get “cluttered,” Hopkins said. “It’s a fine line.” Pop art employs popular or iconic imagery, whereas contemporary art is less well-defined and generally ascribed to works by artists living today, art related to modern-day themes, or art created through new mediums.

In March, four Native Pop artists will represent the Native pop art movement at the National Reservation Economic Summit in Las Vegas. In October, the exhibit will head to the Bishop Gallery in Brooklyn.”