April 16, 2011

Navajo multimedia artist's "Emergence"

Alienation and Native Culture in John Feodorov’s Art

By Brian DaffronForget the Information Age—ours is the Age of Alienation. At least that’s how multimedia artist John Feodorov, Navajo, feels. “Alienation from the spiritual, from the land—I think is a lot of what we see happening around the world is very symptomatic of that,” said Feodorov. “I think it’s at the core of so many problems, whether it’s environmental issues or how we think of people from other cultures. The thing is I don’t have any answers, either. I’m not trying to come off as some sort of sage. I think it needs to be brought to the surface. Hopefully that will get people thinking past my little show and thinking of potential ways to resolving this within themselves and within their communities.”

Feodorov is not bound by any one medium or sense of convention. Instead, he is just as likely to incorporate video or music as part of an artistic installation as he would be to use a two-dimensional canvas. For Feodorov, an installation “isn’t just an object,” he said. “It’s the space as well. Video is a great way of using the exhibition space to engage the viewer.”

It is a refusal to be bound by convention or subject matter that has earned Feodorov recognition over the years, including being a part of the 2001 PBS series Art:21, Art for the 21st Century and its companion book published by Harry N. Abrams. Now an assistant professor of art at Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash., Feodorov was recently granted $7,370 through the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation as part of its 2010 Artistic Innovation—“Through the Soul of an Artist” award. With this money, Feodorov bought a new Macintosh and software to continue his art, and traveled to an opening of his one-man show, “Emergence,” at the Museum of Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe, N.M. on the Institute of American Indian Arts campus.

A major theme of Feodorov’s work is reconnection to Native culture. Feodorov grew up in Southern California, where he was raised by his Navajo mother and had no connection with his father. His visits to the Navajo Reservation through his youth helped maintain family connections.
Comment:  For more on Navajo artists, see Navajo Artist's Auto-Immune Project and Boba Fett Meets Coyote.

Below:  Emergence #3 (detail) by John Feodorov. Acrylic and charcoal on unstretched canvas, 70" x 70 ", 2010.

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