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I-Witness Culture

Frank Buffalo Hyde

Frank Buffalo Hyde believes it is the artist’s responsibility to represent the times in which he or she lives. 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.

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) at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture through January 7, 2018. Transforming street art techniques into fine art practices, Frank Buffalo Hyde’s humorous and acerbic narrative artworks investigate the accepted truth and the truth; the known and the unknown.

Documenting the experience of Native Americans’ existence in the digital age — the selfie age — I-Witness Culture explores technology as a tool of indigenous activism.

Debunking stereotypes is the hallmark of Hyde’s style. Born in Santa Fe, 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 says. “Today, we are the observers, as well as the observed. We are here, we are educated, and we define Indian art.”

The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture is open daily 10 a.m.–5 p.m. (through October). Admission $7 Adults/Seniors (60+) NM residents, $12 non-resident Adults/Seniors, $6 NM students with ID, $11 non-resident students, Children 16 & under Free. First Sunday of the month is free for NM residents with ID. Every Wednesday free for NM Seniors (60+ with ID).

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