Apsáalooke: Children of the Large-Beaked Bird

On view March 25, – Oct. 2023

Multi-media artist Wendy Red Star, a member of the Apsáalooke (Crow) tribe, offers accounts of American history that rectify frequently flawed narratives about Native peoples. An avid researcher, Red Star re-examines cultural artifacts and historical imagery, using them as the foundation for her annotated photographs and installations. The Children of the Large-Beaked Bird exhibition provides an opportunity for adults and children to look at history and representation with fresh eyes. As Red Star notes: “It is critical to preserve and pass along culture, heritage, and shared values while also providing future generations with a sense of identity, solidarity, and empowerment.”

At the center of Children of the Large-Beaked Bird (the English translation of “Apsáalooke”) are Red Star’s annotated portraits of the historic 1880 Crow Peace Delegation that brought leaders to meet with U.S. officials for land rights negotiations. Using red pen to add text and definition to the archival images, she draws attention to the ways in which the original portraits deliberately remove the leaders from their contexts. New work created specifically for this exhibition turns these images into large photographic blow-ups and life-size cutout figures, bringing the portrait sitters to life. For Red Star, this is an act of reclaiming her ancestors’ stories.

Red Star created this exhibition, in part, to address the lack of information she encountered about her own history while attending public schools in her home region. Collaborating with her young daughter, Beatrice, Red Star seeks to make historical content accessible and relevant to young learners. The exhibition incorporates reproductions of colored pencil drawings by Beatrice and Peelatchiwaaxpáash/Chief Medicine Crow, as well as childhood drawings by Red Star herself. Some of these drawings serve as inspiration for plush stuffed animals representing ideas of cross-cultural communication and language translation.

About the Artist

Wendy Red Star works across disciplines to explore the intersections of Native American ideologies and colonization, both historically and in contemporary society. Raised on the Apsáalooke (Crow) reservation in Montana, Red Star’s work is informed both by her heritage and her engagement with many forms of creative expression, including photography, sculpture, video, fiber arts, and performance. An avid researcher of archives and historical narratives, Red Star seeks to incorporate and recast her research, offering new and unexpected perspectives in work that is at once inquisitive, witty, and unsettling. Intergenerational collaborative work is integral to her practice, along with creating a wider forum for the expression of Native women’s voices in contemporary art.

Red Star has exhibited in the United States and abroad at venues including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, Domaine de Kerguéhennec,

Portland Art Museum, Hood Art Museum, St. Louis Art Museum, and the Minneapolis Institute of Art, among others. She served as a visiting lecturer at institutions including Yale University, the Figge Art Museum, the Banff Centre, National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Dartmouth College, CalArts, Flagler College, and I.D.E.A. Space in Colorado Springs. In 2017, Red Star was awarded the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award, and in 2018, she received a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship. In 2019, Red Star had her first career survey exhibition at the Newark Museum in Newark, New Jersey.

Red Star holds a bachelor’s degree in fine art from Montana State University, Bozeman, and a master’s degree in fine art/sculpture from University of California, Los Angeles. She lives and works in Portland, Oregon.