Native POP Artists Drawing From Contemporary Issues in Their Work

-C.J. Keene, News Director


While cultural heritage was the main focus at the Native Pop Arts Festival in Rapid City last weekend, there were undeniable political tones to some of the pieces.

For example, Eunice Straight Ahead, a photographer who questions the lens indigenous people have historically been captured by.

Straight Ahead’s work placed in the two-dimensional category, and said she wants people to feel “seen” through her photography.

A painter, Keith BraveHeart, said he tries to focus on local relevance in the Rapid City market.

One of BraveHeart’s entries, “Intergenerational Vacancies,” depicts a collection of bison lying beside the sign of an embattled Rapid City hotel. BraveHeart said it is up to the viewer to decide if those bison are alive or not.

BraveHeart says he carries a sense of responsibility in his work.

Another of BraveHeart’s work won the Native Pop publicity award, meaning it will be used in next years festivals promotional material.

“Waziyata”, which BraveHeart translated roughly as “north”, and depicts a man holding a bison skull, surrounded by magpies, in front of a sign that reads “welcome to North Rapid.”