FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — The Heard Museum is featuring Cheyenne River Sioux artist Cheyenne Randall’s ‘The Mural Project' through Feb. 15, which will include creating murals at the museum and on Gray Mountain on the Navajo Nation and in downtown Flagstaff.
Randall will collaborate with Chip Thomas, an artist known for his murals and work on the Navajo Nation, at Gray Mountain and in downtown Flagstaff.
Randall’s murals investigate identity and the idea of celebrity obsession — he also includes iconic images of indigenous leaders honoring them with a relevant aesthetic, showing that Native America was and is still here and illuminating their survival.
Erin Joyce, curator of Fine Arts for the Heard, curated the exhibition ‘You Are on Indian Land’ for the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff. She started working at the Heard Museum in October.
Joyce explained she really wants to show exhibitions that are new and fresh and feature young, contemporary artists from different backgrounds who are indigenous but have different practices — film, sculptures or murals. Randall’s ‘The Mural Project’ fits right in.
“I love his work and I think it has a really interesting point of view,” Joyce said.
Joyce said having part of the project spill outside of the Heard’s walls and into different communities was the point and not a lot of exhibitions do that. And the collaboration made sense, too.
“I wanted to do something on an indigenous reservation and knowing Chip and knowing his projects up on the Navajo Reservation, I thought that was natural,” Joyce said. “They’d never met or worked together before but when I suggested they collaborate, they were both excited and they are both fans of each other.”
In his public art installations, Randall creates a gallery space in the open and eliminates hierarchical and institutional structures of authority, Joyce said. In his ‘Shopped Tatoo’ series, Randall superimposes tattoos onto iconic historic and
celebrity figures, redressing their identity and questioning practices of self-identity and the representation of overlapping identities.
Randall is also a painter and has started to incorporate more of that into his work. In Randall’s landscapes, he creates surreal imagery, subverting colonial views of the landscape, land ownership and fetishization of the natural world.
Randall will create seven murals at the Heard Museum through Feb. 8. From Feb. 10-15, he will be in northern Arizona creating the murals at Gray Mountain and downtown Flagstaff.
Randall was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He moved to Seattle, where’s he has lived for about 15-20 years. He had a sports accident where he injured his knee and that is when he started playing around with PhotoShop and putting tattoos on old celebrity photos. He posted it on Instagram when that site was in its infancy and the work blew up into something big.
“It was on the front page of Yahoo! the next week, then The Today Show wanted to talk to him and The Huffington Post,” Joyce said. “It went viral really rapidly.”
The murals will remain up at the Heard indefinitely at this point.