“Gregg Deal: Yadooa Hookwu (I’ll Speak Now)”, UMKC Gallery of Art – KC STUDIO
Native flags 2, 3 and 4. Medium: Inkjet printing on fabric
Gregg Deal’s exhibition “Yadooa Hookwu (I Will Speak Now)” is a combination of time-tested pop art techniques and Native American Indian imagery. Combining both historical photos with chewing gum and comic book images of “Indian warriors,” Deal, a member of the Paiute tribe of Pyramid Lake, stylizes the images with both traditional motifs and a Warholian aesthetic. Bloated lyrics come out of the mouths of these characters, but the origins of the sentences are not what they appear to be.
Upon entering the UMKC Art Gallery, the first work to dominate the space is “Indigenous Flags 2, 3 & 4”. Stretched from floor to ceiling in the middle of the room, three sheets of fabric stretch diagonally, resembling a tent. On the fabric, stylized American flags are printed in solid colors, but the typical stars and stripes are replaced by zigzag, crisscross patterns taken from Native American textiles. Behind the enormous tent-shaped work is yet another American flag, with similar designs, but this one hangs upside down in a typical punk rock gesture.
Further on, a series of Warhol-style prints called “Indian Bowie (Zigginindigenous)” cover a long wall. All 10 prints feature the same image in different colors, a Native American man in historical costume with feathers and necklaces but with David Bowie’s iconic Ziggy Stardust makeup covering the left eye.
In the second room, a series of acrylic paintings depict images of old cowboys and Indian comics, the kind of imagery common to packets of gum and pulp magazines for much of the 20th century. Very muscular and stylized “red men” fight against white settlers, throwing them, suffocating them and dodging Bowie knives. In comic book-style speech bubbles, the cartoon Indians utter threatening invective, “You can’t hurt me!” I’m banned from DC “and” Give me comfort or give me death! “And” They take away our freedom. In the name of freedom. Why can’t they all fade away? Why can’t they let us do it? They make us feel indebted for saving us from hell. And then they put us through this, it’s time for the bastards to fall.
Maybe you recognize some of these lines, they come from the punk rock anthems of Bad Brains, The Dead Kennedys and Suspect Device. Or maybe you would recognize a more well-known line on the “Anarchy (Sex Pistols)” chart: “I’m an anti-christ, I’m an anarchist, I don’t know what I want, but I know how the get . “The change of context, from 1980s punk rock lyrics to Indian comic book warrior mouths, transforms those rebellious calls. For example, ‘You can’t hurt me! I’m banned in DC!’, To the origin about how African-American punk band Bad Brains was banned from most venues in Washington, DC, now recalls the recent name change of the Washington football team from the Redskins and the ban on all old songs and images associated with the Redskins logo.
But the lyrics are perhaps modified in another, more direct way. In a statement to the exhibit, Deal writes: “What you think it sounds like it doesn’t, and what you think is familiar has been rebooted.” A very punk rock attitude! But that should make any viewer wonder, “Am I looking at yet another art exhibit with genre inversions typical of pop art, or am I seeing something more literal?” It would be almost too simple to give this exhibition the typical interpretation through the language of art history and art criticism and completely ignore a much simpler message: overturn the flag, fight back. , Rebell.
“Gregg Deal: Yadooa Hookwu (I Will Speak Now) ”continues at the UMKC Gallery of Art, 5015 Holmes St., through November 5. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information 816.235.1502 or info.umkc.edu/gallery