Whether through painting, screen printing, or performance, artist Gregg Deal consistently challenges assumptions and stereotypes about Native people. As a current Native Arts Artist-in-Residence at the Denver Art Museum, Deal is continuing that work in dialogue with the museum’s exhibitions and collections.
New Performance Piece
Deal’s newest piece, The Western Tour, will be performed August 18 in the style of a guided exhibition tour through The Western: An Epic in Art and Film. Visitors will be led through the exhibition by “Super Indian”, a character created by Deal and influenced by the work of artist Fritz Scholder and author/activist Vine Deloria.
The exhibition itself examines the evolution of the Western genre through fine art, film, and popular culture. Deal’s tour will emphasize the evolution of the role of the American Indian within that genre and across those media.
Perception vs Reality
“There’s a difference between the perception of the Indian within American pop culture and the reality of the Indian outside the eyes of pop culture,” says Deal. “Within the exhibition, the Indian plays an important role, and you can see how the role changes over time in pop culture. By the '60s and '70s, the Indian is this ever-present, non-existent entity that pops up in culture when it is convenient.”
In touring the exhibition from an Indigenous perspective, Deal hopes to complicate and deconstruct the popular narratives of the Old West. “That narrative is part of the justification of the greatness of America—it’s so ingrained in people…Funny and awesome and interesting things happen when you do a performance like this because people don’t think that narrative can be questioned.”
The Western Tour takes place on Friday, August 18, 2017 at 6–7 pm. Tickets are $8 DAM members, $18 Colorado residents, $21 others. Tour ticket includes admission to The Western exhibition and museum admission.