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Indian Country: The Art of David Bradley

January 27 - July 14, 2018

Chicago and East Galleries

David Bradley's End of the Santa Fe Trail
David Bradley's Lone Ranger & Tonto

David Bradley (Minnesota Chippewa, b. 1954) is known for creating narrative artworks that challenge Native American stereotypes while simultaneously revealing a misunderstood truth; that the indigenous experience is at the heart of what it means to be an American.

In paintings tempered by humor, Bradley “portrays human conditions and personal relationships that would be too controversial in another form.” The dry, highly observant, personal humor in his narrative paintings bridges the gap between the cartoon and fine art tradition, giving them an immediate, visceral, impact. With obvious delight and deceptively gentle social satire, Bradley skewers offending persons, stereotypes, and ideologies. He can be cutting and ruthless—notably in his multimedia works—in his depictions of tragic, heartrending histories significant to him, and yet attain a gentle, almost reverent, tone in his depictions of landscapes, family, and friends.

A deep connection with the artistic process unifies Bradley’s narrative and abstract paintings, multimedia works, and sculptures. His all-over attention to the surface, in which each area of the composition is given equal attention and significance, resists focal points, inviting viewers to wander the canvas from top to bottom following lines, shapes, colors, and concepts. His use of strong colors, patterned surfaces, generalized light, an absence of expressive brushwork, and an overall flatness and linearity, enhance the illusory aspect, which gives precedence to the idea.

Significant works of art reveal complexity as we engage with them over time. Intentionally, Bradley constructs seemingly chaotic narratives that combine the unlikely with the absurd, leaving us to ponder how all the elements are related, define each other, and are harmonious. For each viewer, understanding resides in personal, social, and cultural histories as well as a willingness to question closely held assumptions. 

Indian Country, an exhibition organized by the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture and hosted by the University of Wyoming Art Museum, offers an evocative visual description of the native experience.

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Days of Dialogue, Panel Discussion: This is Indian Country, Tuesday, January 30, 2018, exhibition preview 6:30 p.m., panel discussion 7:00 p.m.

    • Panelists: Angela Jaime, director of the UW American Indian Studies Program; Caskey Russell, professor from the UW American Indian Studies Program; and Nicole M. Crawford, curator of collections at the UW Art Museum

  • Lunchtime Conversations with Curators, Wednesday, February 7, 2018, Noon-12:30 p.m.

  • This exhibition has been organized by the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture/Laboratory of Anthropology, Santa Fe, NM and circulated through GuestCurator Traveling Exhibitions.

  • Funded in part by the National Advisory Board for the UW Art Museum Endowment, Art Museum Gala Funds, Wyoming Public Media, and the Wyoming Arts Council through the National Endowment for the Arts and the Wyoming State Legislature



Left: David Bradley (Minnesota Chippewa – American Indian, b. 1954), End of the Santa Fe Trail, 1992, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 60 inches, courtesy of the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture

Right: David Bradley (Minnesota Chippewa – American Indian, b. 1954), Tonto and the Lone Ranger, 2014, bronze with patina, ed. 1/12, 12x75 x 9.25 x 5.5 (Tonto), 15 x 15 x 9.5 (Lone Ranger) inches, courtesy of the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture

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