Indian Ink II
The “8” Artists of INDIAN INK II:
“Say HELLO To My Little FRIEND!(s)”
The artists in Indian Ink II are well versed in many forms, styles, concepts and methods. These are not beginners, but to many art-collecting patrons, they are absolute beginners. Their work has flown beneath the radar of many in the last decade. It is their decade now.
The eight artists in Indian Ink II challenge the viewer to look beyond the pale. The (so-called) experts, the academics and the institutional racism(s) are elements that often hold artists of color, and their bold intuitive, innovative, original works, hostage. This bondage is about to be broken by the union of sheer force of will and exceptional work. These artists are utilizing an old/new apparatus called freedom of expression.
Simply because her work epitomizes the calm collision of the old with the so-called new, Melissa Cody, Texstylist/Weaver, symbolizes our heroic artists’ struggle for respect via pure unfettered creativity on their own terms. Greeks are not the only ones with mythic heroes. These artists are my (non-mythic) heroes: Micah “Werewulf” Wesley, Yatika Fields, Lalo Cota, Thomas “Breeze” Marcus, Rebekah Miles, Rose Simpson and Melissa Cody. These artists work in obscurity, isolation and away from art epicenters. Their work is epic in nature and their artistic struggle is Herculean at best. With Melissa Cody’s sunburst neon palette and love of the underground, her weaving is a masterful mashed -up mix of years of trial, error, experiment, unraveling, weaving and de-constructing (Navajo) regional styles to the point of non-recognition. Her work is so far gone that a new word was coined to describe her process by this writer: “textstylist.” Her work is the perfect example of the Indian Ink II artists creating in a world at odds with itself yet maintaining a great respect for the arts forms of the past. Her work and its technology is made out of a dire necessity to feel, breathe, exist and express her love and disdain for all things true and false. What is considered taboo or inappropriate has now become the norm. Native artists like Cody now skate past old paradigms of institutional acceptance and pandering. Artists (like us) have been touched by everything and anything we like. Accepted and unaccepted. Welcome to our present. We are the artists, thus we are the experts at what we make and what we do.
These “8” artists simply feel as Miles Davis said, “let the music (art) speak for itself!” There you have the jump off point to a misleadingly random but well executed body of works by the following eight Indian Ink II artists. Hold onto your seat and leave your lovely notions and archaic view of Native people and our pristine, untouchable culture at home. It is our culture and we are the self-definition of our own artistic and poetic licensure, wrestling it back from ravenous institutions who’ve attempted to predetermine and define who we are as a “people” (and as artists).
Art is not always an exercise in ethnicity. It should be an exercise in freedom. The freedom to make work devoid of systemic institutional filters of anthropology, ethnography and archaeology is necessary now. Each Indian Ink II artist has worked hard to self-define his or her (art)work and to allow it to stand alone as art and not as “artifact.” Their art states some very simple facts about the world around them. The world we inhabit is continuously complex, multi-layered, diverse, eclectic and chaotic.
Revolutions are now born on Facebook, as networks of systematically controlled masses lay victim to decades of dictatorships and dictation as to what (and who) freedom is and looks like. Simply put, these eight Indian Ink II artists will no longer be dictated to. So-called “experts” may agree or agree to disagree, either way, it makes no difference now. Curators have given up asking the questions. While archaic museums search for relevance and galleries wonder where their next rent check is coming from, these artists have become expert at the creation of work that provides meaning only to the generation they have inherited. Welcome to the now, the ultra-wave, where nothing means everything and everything means nothing. If a pretty picture can speak a thousand words, then it is possible an unusual picture can speak one word: Truth.
Douglas Miles 1