Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds

Rose Art Museum's Ruth Ann and Nathan Perlmutter Artist-in-Residence

By: - Oct 14, 2021

The Rose Art Museum named Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds (b. 1954, Cheyenne/Arapaho) its 2021-2022 Ruth Ann and Nathan Perlmutter Artist-in-Residence. Since 2002, the Perlmutter Residency has been part of the Rose Art Museum’s longstanding tradition of promoting artists of extraordinary talent whose works address contemporary issues of vital urgency. Rooted within the traditions of his Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho homelands, Heap of Birds’ paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptural and text-based public art projects provoke critical dialogues about identity, belonging, power and historical narratives of oppression and resilience.
“The Rose team and I are aware that the violent dispossession, enslavement, and dispersal of multiple Indigenous communities and individuals by settler colonialism facilitated the very existence of our museum here, on this land. As we strive to repair relationships with Native peoples and the land, we commit to actively learning from, respecting, and amplifying Native voices by pursuing partnerships with Indigenous artists and communities. Inviting Edgar to the Rose is but one step in this long and necessary journey,” said Dr. Gannit Ankori, the Henry and Lois Foster Director and Chief Curator.
Heap of Birds’ ongoing series of public interventions, titled Native Hosts, first begun in 1988, utilizes the direct typeface and design of municipal signage to draw attention to the injustices and violence often relegated to a repressed past. In present-tense statements (“Today your host is . . .”) Heap of Birds’ Native Hosts signs insist that the forced seizure of Native lands and the sovereignty of these grounds be brought into contemporary conversations. His Perlmutter Residency will commission the first Native Hosts signs on lands that now comprise the state of Massachusetts and—in partnership with the Brandeis University Library and the public arts organization Now+There—will support the installation of linked artworks across Brandeis’s campus and the City of Boston.
“As an organization committed to creating more openness and connection in Boston through site-specific, engaging public art experiences, Now + There acknowledges the deliberate and systemic oppression that has created the built environment where our projects occur,” said Kate Gilbert, Executive Director of Now + There. “We look forward to learning from and with Edgar Heap of Birds and local tribal elders to elevate the presence of past, present, and future Indigenous peoples.”
Heap of Birds’ practice is based in community and conversation. He will begin his engagement at the Rose in dialogue with local Indigenous tribes and individuals. Following these conversations and a public forum to be hosted this winter, Heap of Birds will create a series of Native Hosts signs to honor and draw attention to the histories and continued presence of Native communities. His residency supports the permanent installation of his work at the Rose Art Museum and the Brandeis Library, as well as the opportunity for far-reaching connections and new understandings about the cultures and colonial histories that remain linked to today’s struggles for justice and racial equity.

The Ruth Ann and Nathan Perlmutter Artist-in-Residence Award is part of the Rose’s longstanding tradition of promoting contemporary artists. Past honorees have included Caroline Woodward, Tuesday Smillie, Tony Lewis, Jennie C. Jones, Mika Rottenberg, Dana Schutz, Xavier Veilhan, and Barry McGee.

Nathan Perlmutter served as national director of the Anti-Defamation League for eight years and was a vice president at Brandeis from 1969-73. Along with his wife, Ruth Ann, he championed the interfaith movement and empowered religious and racial minorities. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House in 1987, shortly before his death. Ruth Ann Perlmutter, a sculptor, and painter received degrees from the University of Denver and Wayne State University.
Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds lives and works on tribal lands in Oklahoma City and taught at the University of Oklahoma from 1988 to 2018. His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at institutions such as MoMA PS1, New York; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Fabric Workshop, Philadelphia; the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Australia; the Berkeley Art Museum, California; the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution, New York; and the Association For Visual Arts Museum, Cape Town, South Africa. Heap of Birds has been included in numerous group exhibitions, including at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City; the Denver Art Museum, Denver; the Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney, Australia; and the Museum of Modern Art,New York; and in international biennials such as SITE Santa Fe, La Biennale di Venezia, and Documenta. He has also created major commissions for the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, and Public Art Fund, New York. He has received awards from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Rockefeller Foundation.