Artist, writer, and graphic novelist Alan Brooks hosts this conversation series that brings together artists from the Cowboy exhibition with scholars and other guests to unravel the complex history, stereotypes, and legends surrounding the American West through the intersection of contemporary art and American history.
Artists Gregg Deal and Mel Chin imagine a Western landscape scarred from its colonialist past. Deal (Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe) creates artworks that honor the indigenous experience and critique the mechanics of American society. In his performance piece Teepugoobakwaetu Modu (Animals That Roam the Earth), performed on December 9 at MCA Denver, Deal creates an imagined figure who occupies a future beyond the reach of settler colonialism. Mel Chin uses his artwork to connect to several chapters in Texas history, including the Catholic colonization of Texas in the 1500s and the closing of the Open Range – the land where cattle and cowboys alike could freely roam – in the late 1800s.
About the Speakers
Gregg Deal (Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe) is a provocative contemporary artist who challenges Western perceptions of Indigenous people, touching on issues of race, history, and stereotypes. Through his work—graphic design, paintings, murals work, performance art, filmmaking, and spoken word—Deal critically examines issues and tells stories of decolonization and appropriation that affect Indian country. Deal’s activism exists in his art, as well as his participation in political movements.
Mel Chin’s art employs a wide range of approaches, from unique, idiosyncratic objects to operations that require multi-disciplinary, collaborative teamwork. He insists that projects in the public field are dosed with a rigorous pragmatism and an elevated poetic . Studio work is notably without a signature style resulting in works suffused with a deeply considered restraint or excess to promote an unpredictable aesthetic. His 2014 ReMatch retrospective curator, Miranda Lash, described his practice as a mutative strategy, depending on concepts to derive the materials of its realization, from actions, to films, to objects, as necessary. Mel, a recipient of many awards, received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2019 and was elected into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2021.
About the Host
R. Alan Brooks writes an award-winning weekly comic for The Colorado Sun, “What’d I Miss?”. His TED Talk on the importance of art has reached 3 million views, and his graphic novel work is featured in the Denver Art Museum's renovated Western exhibit. He also hosts the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver’s podcast, "How Art Is Born."
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Your ticket to Cowboy Conversations includes admission to MCA Denver anytime before Cowboy closes on February 18. Simply show your confirmation email at the front desk of the museum.