Artist, activist, and educator Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds (American, b. 1954) is a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho nations, and these identities have informed his work for more than 30 years. This presentation of new and recent large-scale print works points to legacies of state violence against native communities while drawing parallels with events in the present day. Heap of Birds monumentalizes the humble language of vernacular signage, such as handwritten protest posters, to expose and memorialize events and individuals that have often been forgotten, repressed, or deliberately erased. Composed from poetic and fragmented language, these works draw on sources including popular songs, historical events, and political figures to open new critical perspectives on American history and culture.
Born in Wichita, Kansas, in 1954, Edgar Heap of Birds lives and works in Oklahoma City, where he taught at the University of Oklahoma from 1988 to 2018. His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at institutions such as 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 at museums including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Denver Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney, The Peabody Essex Museum, and The Museum of Modern Art in 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 and Public Art Fund, and been the recipient of awards from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and The Rockefeller Foundation, among others.
Organized by Ruba Katrib, Curator, with Oliver Shultz, Curatorial Associate, MoMA PS1.