Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

Heap of Birds draws ties between Indigenous identities, natural landscapes, and various forms of power and prejudice. The text of

this print speaks in the voice of European Americans who displaced Indigenous peoples while taking their names and images for mascots, their products for national heritage, and their land for cities. The term “natural” spelled backward looms above the text, “puncturing,” as the artist puts it, the logic of the statement that follows. Dense black and blue shapes weave around and through the words. Are they birds in flight, silhouetted animals, or simply abstractions? They evoke, perhaps, Heap of Birds and his ancestors, whose names appear in the work’s title: Black Wolf, the artist’s great-great-grandfather and headsman of the Cheyenne Elk Clan, and Hachivi (Many Magpies), the artist’s family name, which was forcibly changed to Heap of Birds in the late 19th century by the U.S. military. Through text and abstraction, the artist examines injustice with deeply intimate and historical roots.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
2018.33.13
People
Hock E Aye VI Edgar Heap of Birds, American (Wichita, KS born 1954)
Title
Telling many Magpies, Telling Black Wolf, Telling Hachivi
Classification
Prints
Work Type
print
Date
1989
Culture
Native American
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/361192
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Screenprint on white wove paper
Technique
Screen print
Dimensions
177.8 × 114.3 cm (70 × 45 in.)
mat: 189.2 × 119.4 cm (74 1/2 × 47 in.)
Provenance
Edgar Heap of Birds, created 1989; [Brandywine Workshop, Philadelphia, PA], sold; to the Harvard Art Museums, 2018.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Margaret Fisher Fund
Copyright
© Edgar Heap of Birds
Accession Year
2018
Object Number
2018.33.13
Division
Modern and Contemporary Art
Contact
am_moderncontemporary@harvard.edu
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