John Tolley, February 21, 2018
Visual art is rarely an active medium; works sit on pedestals or hang on walls to be observed, not witnessed. Creation so often happens in the studio, away from the prying eyes of the public.
Such is not the case, however, at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Great Plains Art Museum, where, for the month of March, the public is invited to watch as their 2018 artist-in-residence, Henry Payer, creates an original piece in the gallery's lobby.
Payer, who has an MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, an indigenous people whose ancestral lands encompass large swaths of Nebraska, Wisconsin Illinois, and Minnesota. His work is an intersection of themes, bringing together Native American artistic traditions with modern styles, according to a recent UNL Newsroom article previewing Payer's residency.
Working primarily with collage and mixed media, Payer's narrative compositions are bold and contemporary. His works reference the altered landscape through Indigenous cartographic methods of "picture-writing" with traditional aspects of spatial representation and symbolism combined with European modernist models of cubism, spatial distortion and collage. Each work offers a visual narrative of symbols and appropriated voices from American consumer society that reconfigures history, the landscape or the identity of a portrait. He represents the work of a new generation of artists seeking to expand the range and voice of their visual and cultural representation, while attending to forms of tradition.
Numerous other events, which are free and open to the public, surround the residency, from a reception and solo exhibition of Payer's work to a family hands-on art event. For a full list of events and more information about Payer and the Great Plains Art Museum, please visit the University of Nebraska Newsroom post here.