Esoo Tubewade Nummetu (This Land Is Ours) by Gregg Deal
Published Issue 106, October 2022
Gregg Deal (Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe) is a multi-disciplinary artist, activist, and self-described “disruptor” who lives and works in southern Colorado. A major solo exhibition at the Ent Center for the Art’s Marie Walsh Sharpe Gallery site in Colorado Springs will feature new works in multiple series addressing Native identity and critiquing American society, politics, popular culture and history. Deal’s art practice incorporates lifelong interests in punk music, street art and graphic styles, comic books and speculative superhero fiction. Deal presents a new paradigm that places the perception, narratives and voices of Indigenous people at the center of modern and historic storytelling, with romantic and damaging stereotypes of culture placed upon them upended and rejected by all. In Esoo Tubewade Nummetu (This Land Is Ours), Deal asserts that Native peoples and their cultures are still here and that we are all standing on the homelands of past and future Indigenous generations.
“In 2018 a man asked me, ‘What is the most important thing to Indigenous people? The land? Protecting traditions? Your language? Or your people?’ I told him, ‘Those are all the same things.’
So much of the Western understanding of Indigenous people on the North American continent is predicated by the perception of existence and not the reality of existence. Whether the mystical Indian, the vanishing race, or the antagonist to Western progression, these ascribed identities situate Indigenous people as perpetual relics, rarely given quarter in the present, and certainly not in the future. Our likeness, personality and even culture has been created, romanticized and reproduced through film, photography, literature, consumables and visual art. The premise of one artwork in the exhibition titled, White People Shouldn’t Paint Indians, is based upon the idea that our own identity has been informed by this Western gaze, and the marginalized nature of Indigenous people has prevented us from telling our own stories. Our image, wrested from our control and wielded on our behalf, has ensured that our image and our identity are manufactured in a way that negates truth and distorts truthful understandings of who we are as both historical and modern peoples. Contemporary art is one sure way to challenge these ideas, even reusing the damaging images to reimagine, challenge and reflect on hundreds of years of misinformation and misappropriation.
In a new paradigm, we must assert our identity in the face of settler colonialism and generations of romantic nationalism. As we do so, new narratives manifest themselves, challenging established spaces and hegemonies that have traditionally suppressed voices of Black, Brown and Indigenous people. Such an undertaking demands that we reimagine the sound of authentic Indigenous voices, uproot the romantic notions of history, and boldly state that we are not only here, but that you are on the homelands of our people and the generations of Indigenous people in the future.”
Esoo Tubewade Nummetu (This Land Is Ours)
On view through December 11, 2022 at the Marie Walsh Sharpe Gallery, Ent Center for the Arts | Colorado Springs | Learn more
Special Event: Visiting Artists & Critics Talk with Gregg Deal
Tuesday, October 11 at 6 p.m. at the Chapman Recital Hall, Ent Center For the Arts | Colorado Springs | Free to the public | learn more Instagram.
Gregg Deal is a husband, a father, an artist and a member of the Paiute Tribe of Pyramid Lake. As a provocative contemporary artist/activist, much of Gregg’s work deals with indigenous identity and pop-culture, touching on issues of race relations, historical consideration and stereotype. Within this work, as well as his paintings, mural work, and print work Gregg advances issues within Indian country such as decolonization, the mascot issue (local and across the US) and appropriation. Within the context of such heavy subject matter, Gregg speaks intelligently to these issues, brings a sharp wit, and is keenly aware of his place as an indigenous man and a contemporary artist.
Gregg’s work is also on exhibit for i know you are, but what am i? (De)Framing Identity and the Body at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (UMOCA) in Salt Lake City on view through January 7, 2023. To see upcoming exhibits, events and more of Gregg’s work, head to his site & follow him on Instagram + Twitter.
Check out Gregg’s interview in the September issue for his 2022 RedLine Gallery exhibit End of Silence: A Punk Survey of Gregg Deal and keep your eyes peeled for more work by this talented artist.