On March 1st, the Academy Art Museum in Easton will host Marty Two Bulls for an artist talk about his installation “Dominion” in the Museum’s Saul Atrium Gallery through August.
Two Bulls, an Oglala Lakota artist and educator based at Oglala Lakota College on the Pine Ridge Reservation of South Dakota, holds an impressive resume of exhibitions and commissioned installations from 2006 to the present, with a recent public art mural for the tribally owned Oyate Health Center in Rapid City.
As a seven-year instructor at OLC, Two Bulls draws from his experience at The Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to create a graphic arts program that encourages students to explore heritage while embracing their unique interpretation.
As an educator, Two Bulls approaches teaching with a focus on nurturing his students’ creativity and individuality. Rather than imposing predetermined notions of aesthetics, he encourages students to explore their unique perspectives and cultural backgrounds, empowering them to express themselves authentically through their art.
“A lot of times, it’s just encouraging them and telling them, like ‘your ideas are really important. And what you’re doing is important. Keep doing it.’ My job was to arm them with better tools to reach their objectives. But I’m lucky, you know, they come out ready to compete, to create professional graphics, or paintings or illustrations or whatever,” he says.
While Two Bulls explores themes of oppression, injustice, and consumerism in his work as he connects to historical events like the decimation of the bison herds, broken treaties, and policies, he says that he is careful to steer away from artistic cliches about Native American life.
Two Bulls says that giving accessibility to his art is central to his artistic path.
The “Dominion” installation at the Academy Art Museum is a commitment to accessibility by introducing QR codes for viewers to engage with their phones and delve deeper into the historical and cultural context behind his work.
Talking about his “Casper the Friendly Ghost” styled ghost buffalo” images in “Dominion,” Two Bulls says the imagery doesn’t exist within his traditional culture.
“It’s meant to be new specifically because I wanted people to be able to feel comfortable and able to identify with it. It’s this new contemporary imagery that comes from me and comes from, my background but also it isn’t sacred are like a lot of the issues around indigenous imagery.”
This approach, as with all of his art, is an invitation to engage with his heritage on a different level and in a space to open up curiosity and dialogue.
“Dominion” is an AAM-commissioned project is generously sponsored by Carol Gordean, Mary Ann Schindler, and Joseph Minarick in memory of Carol Minarick, artist and friend of the Museum—additional support provided by Donna and Jim Alpi.
Academy Art Museum hopes to continue the dialogue during his artist talk Friday, Match 1, at 6 pm. All talks are free to the public.
This video is approximately eight minutes in length. For more about the Academy Art Museum, go here.