Edgar Heap of Birds

Edgar Heap of Birds

Book Pages: 232 Illustrations: 95 illustrations, incl. 78 in Published: September 2015

Author: Bill Anthes

American Studies, Art and Visual Culture > Art Criticism and Theory, Native and Indigenous Studies

For over three decades, contemporary Native American artist Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds has pursued a disciplined practice in multiple media, having shown his paintings, drawings, prints, and text-based conceptual art throughout numerous national and international galleries and public spaces. In the first book-length study of this important artist, Bill Anthes analyzes Heap of Birds's art and politics in relation to the international contemporary art scene, Native American history, and settler colonialism. Foregrounding how Heap of Birds roots his practice in Cheyenne spirituality and an indigenous way of seeing and being in the world, Anthes describes how Heap of Birds likens his art to "sharp rocks"—weapons delivering trenchant critiques of the loss of land, life, and autonomy endured by Native Americans. Whether appearing as interventions in public spaces or in a gallery, Heap of Birds's carefully honed artworks pose questions about time, modernity, identity, power, and the meaning and value of contemporary art in a global culture. 


"Edgar Heap of Birds is a productive step toward disavowing the distinction between 'native' and 'contemporary' experiences." — Maggie Wander, AlterNative

"Anthes organizes Heap of Birds’s public art and gallery work into four thematic chapters—'Land,' 'Words,' 'Histories,' and 'Generations'—building an argument that each series contributes to a broad project of asserting indigenous sovereignty and renewing indigenous community.  In so doing, Anthes shows the inherently Native world view that motivates the artist’s work without compromising its contemporaneity. Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers." — E. Hutchinson, Choice

"Anthes is painstaking . . . in his grounding of Heap of Birds's art in Indigenous perspectives on colonial and post-colonial North America and in his documentation of the complex historical intersections marked by his many site-specific works. . . . Heap of Birds's work remains intensely relevant as elucidations of Native American history written as Native Americans know it." — Emily E. Auger, Canadian Journal of Native Studies

"Generously illustrated with around a hundred images, most in color, Anthes’s study is a must for anyone interested in political art, contemporary art, and Indigenous studies. In fact, it is the best single study of Heap of Birds to date." — Dean Rader, Journal of American Studies

"Anthes’s richly illustrated text begins to take to heart Heap of Birds’s challenge to the writing of history, illuminating the moments in which the artworks themselves write their own histories.  . . . The book models itself after Heap of Birds’s own practice, using meticulous research and wit to gesture to the power of the symbolic and unearth the voices that history has attempted to suppress." — Jessica Landau, Native American and Indigenous Studies

"So often we fail to look carefully at or describe the works of Native American artists in depth, but tend instead to look through them to some plane of political meaning to which they presumably grant passage.  Bill Anthes, by contrast, lingers on and deeply engages with Edgar Heap of Birds's work, filling a gaping hole in contemporary art scholarship. Compelling, thought-provoking, and urgently needed."   — Jane Blocker, author of Where is Ana Mendieta? Identity, Performativity, and Exile

"The art of Edgar Heap of Birds as it comes to life in these pages guides us into the dense interplay between seemingly familiar contemporary forms that in fact derive from a lifetime of contemplation on the Cheyenne and Arapaho world the artist belongs to and the art making that grows therefrom. Bill Anthes impressively appreciates the technical virtuosity Heap of Birds revels in even as he finds a path toward understanding growing spiritual and intellectual wisdom—and perhaps more than anything the great joy, humor, and hope—that have long fueled the art Edgar Heap of Birds makes."  — Robert Warrior, editor of The World of Indigenous North America


Availability: In stock
Price: $25.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Bill Anthes is a Professor in the Art Field Group at Pitzer College and the author of Native Moderns: American Indian Painting, 1940–1960, also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
List of Illustrations  ix

Acknowledgments  xiii

Introduction  1

1. Land  29

2. Words  67

3. Histories  117

4. Generations  163

Notes  181

Bibliography  195

Index  201
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing

Winner, 32nd Annual Mary Ellen LoPresti Publication Award for Best Monograph, presented by the Southeast Chapter of the Art Libraries Society of North America

Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5994-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5981-4
Publicity material