Museum of Indian Arts and Culture

Comic Art Indigène Travels to Washington, D.C.

January 13, 2009


Comic Art Indigène


There were cartoons before the Sunday Comics and Super Heroes before Super Man


Exhibition Travels to National Museum of the American Indian

Washington, D. C.

March 6, 2009 – May 31, 2009


Santa Fe, NM—The successful run of Comic Art Indigène has come to an end in Santa Fe. Now its story travels to the nation’s capital at the National Museum of the American Indian.

Storytelling has long been a part of Native American culture. Comic Art Indigène which ran through January 4, 2008 at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture looked at how storytelling has been used through comics and comic inspired art to express the contemporary Native American experience. Under the larger definition of narrative art, comic art is more related to Native American art traditions than one might expect. The earliest surviving examples of such narrative art is rock art. The historic examples used in the exhibition, such as photographs of rock art, ledger art, and ceramics are meant to link Native American art traditions with contemporary voices.

Making comics and producing art inspired by them is a method of reclaiming the narrative art form of comics and Native American culture from those who would dismiss an art for the masses. Today, Native American artists are reclaiming stereotypes used in earlier comic art depicting Indians as savage, war-like primitives or trusty sidekicks.

The exhibition begins with a photograph of a image from the 13th century. The photo of the red, white and blue pictograph of the All American Man, a shield carrying warrior from the Pueblo II period (carbon dated to ca. 1290) will be contrasted to a Jack Kirby drawing of that other red, white and blue shield hurling hero, Captain America. The most recent works will be from 2008. The majority of Indian art will be from 1990 to the present day.

Two-fisted tales of suspense showcasing fantastic heroes and villains interacting with gods old and new have always been a part of Native American Culture. As the first widely accessible mass media, comic strips, and comic books, were consumed by Indian people as a recognizable and legitimate form of storytelling. Stories of humor, adventure and the fantastic depicted through pictures have always been an indigenous practice. Today’s Native American scribes grapple with the same topics emboldened with millennia-old cultural traditions, blended with new methods of expression and life in the 21st Century.

Comic Art Indigène examines how American Indian artists articulate identity, reclaim stereotypes, worldview, politics, and culture through the kinetic expression of sequential art. Inspired by this unique medium, using its icons, tropes and dynamism, this is a new world of American Indian art, full of the brash excitement first seen on newsprint a century ago, sometimes unrefined, even crude at times, but never sterile.


Media Contacts:

Leonda Levchuk




Steve Cantrell

PR Manager, NMDCA


505-310-3539 – cell

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