June 22, 2012

Veregge's superhero "totems"

Washington State History Museum Unveils 2012 ‘In the Spirit’ Exhibit

One of the Largest Native American Arts Showcases in the Northwest

By Matt Nagle
A remarkable collection of contemporary Indian art awaits those who visit this year’s “In the Spirit” exhibit at Washington State History Museum. Encompassing a wide breadth of media--paintings, digital photography, drawings, weaving, sculpture, beading, carving and more--the 30-plus art works showcased on the walls, free standing and in display cases communicate a wealth of stories that tell of Native American views on life in today’s world.

Among the 25 Northwest Native artists showing in the juried exhibit, 14 are new to this year’s seventh annual event, which culminates in a cultural festival and Native arts market at the museum on Aug. 11.
And:Upon entering the exhibit, visitors are first greeted by Jeffrey Veregge’s (Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe) two brilliant gilcée (high-quality ink jet) framed prints of classic American comic book superheroes rendered as totems--Batman as “The Bat” and Spider-Man titled “Amazing.” By so deftly combining traditional Native American spirit artistry with modern pop icons, Veregge most succinctly sums up the “spirit” behind the event.

According to his written statement accompanying these two pieces, Veregge tells of how he discovered new inspirations for his art after many years of studying more classic Native American art styles. Now he is telling his own, personal stories and in the process unleashing his inner “uber-geek,” as he calls it. “The works I’m now creating are my part of my own history. They reflect over 38 years of my personal interests in comic books, superheroes, action figures, science fiction, cartoons, toys, film and television.”
Comment:  It's a bit hard to tell, but the Spider-Man image uses standard art-forms of the Pacific Northwest style. Other than that, this is a standard image you could see on any comic-book cover.

Therefore, I don't find this image too impressive. Veregge has given Spider-Man a slightly variant costume; he hasn't transformed Spider-Man into something startling new or thought-provoking.

His other images are more interesting, if you ask me. The whole project is interesting.

For more on Native art based on comic books, see Comic-Book Art at Indian Market and Indigenous Comic Art.

1 comment:

Rob said...

For more on the subject, see:


Comic Book Heroes as Native American Traditional Art

Native American artist Jeffrey Veregge, a member of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe who is also of Suquamish and Duwamish tribal ancestry, puts a modern twist on traditional art by creating this series of comic book heroes. Veregge grew up on a reservation near Kingston, Washington called Little Boston where he, like most boys, developed a love for superheroes and toys, but also for traditional art. Combining his passions for comic books, TV, and film with his artistic talents (an honors graduate from the Art Institute of Seattle) and Native perspective, Veregge’s minimalist designs perfectly represent each character.