An artist whose work contemporizes Native American themes in a pop-art style shared stories about his heritage in the Glenn Miller Ballroom Wednesday.
In recognition of Native American Heritage Month, CU’s Native American Association brought to campus Bunky Echo-Hawk, the creative designer for Nike’s N7 line who has an exhibit at the Chicago Field Museum. The artist painted on stage while he and the audience traded stories and outlooks.
Miriah Fields, co-chair of the Native American Association and a senior humanities major, said that Echo-Hawk was chosen to celebrate the month because of his expertise on modern Native American issues.
“The event showed that Native Americans aren’t just people from the past,” said Fields. “They exist now and still have their own set of issues.”
Danika Medak-Saltzman, assistant professor of ethnic studies, said she went to the event in support of Native American Heritage Month. She said it’s shocking that the majority of people do not know of the occasion.
“We shouldn’t have to have a month where we learn about different people, but since that’s what we have, we should at least honor it,” Medak-Saltzman said.
Echo-Hawk interacted with the audience during the show, trying to find out what Native American traditions and customs inspired them. He then took the ideas from the discussion and painted them into one image on stage.
“Hawk creates a really intimate setting that causes the audience to feel like we are all working together in a significant way,” Medak-Saltzman said. “I like how he created the work of art in a long standing tradition of storytelling – taking everyone’s idea into account so no one is more privileged than the other.”
Hawk painted an elderly Native American man, which he said was symbolic of how society has cut off their brains to become more Americanized.
“My painting is focused on how elders effect our communities and how they have witnessed change over generation,” Hawk said. “The painting represents how it’s time that we go back to our traditional roots through the wisdom of our elders.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Alex Myers at Alexandra.firstname.lastname@example.org.