VSF is pleased to present Snake whisky still life and other stories, a group exhibition curated by Todd Bockley featuring new works by Julie Buffalohead, Andrea Carlson, Jim Denomie, Jonathan Herrera Soto, Pao Houa Her, Tom Jones, Brad Kahlhamer, Postcommodity, Eric-Paul Riege, Lauren Roche, and Cara Romero. This exhibition highlights the wide range of artists within the Bockley Gallery program, especially the Native American and Indigenous artists the gallery has championed for over three decades.
Andrea Carlson’s panoramic painting Cast a Shadow explores the intersection between monument and land through an Indigenous lens. Carlson’s multifaceted, symbolism-heavy painting shares visual resonance with the surrealist dreamscapes that play out in works by Lauren Roche, Julie Buffalohead, and Jim Denomie. Roche’s paintings depict figures and animals co-inhabiting dreamlike settings that simultaneously provoke a sense of peace and unease, while Julie Buffalohead creates stories populated by animal characters which fuse the mundane and the mythical. Jim Denomie also draws heavily upon the human/animal relationship in his work, painting antlered figures (a recurrent motif intended to symbolize, in the artist’s words, “spiritual people”), alongside spiny fish, and woodland creatures that float against turbulent technicolor skies. Denomie’s vocabulary of signs, figures, and symbols is inspired both by his own dreams and his Ojibwe heritage. Brad Kahlhamer’s monumental work Ugh x 4 / 4 x Ugh—part of the artist’s ongoing Super Catcher series—reclaims the figure of the dreamcatcher as a means of personal expression while commenting on the broader commodification of this object by Western culture.
Pao Houa Her, Cara Romero, and Tom Jones all employ photography to explore contemporary cultural identities. Her is known for portraits of the Hmong community living in the United States and Laos; Her’s included image, taken in a “whisky village” in Laos, is rendered in a documentary style, combining reality and artifice to consider, critique, and evaluate layered identities. Using a choreographed approach, Cara Romero’s photographs address cultural memory, collective history, and lived experiences from a Native American female perspective. Tom Jones adorns photographic portraits with delicate, laborious bead embroidery. According to Jones, “The use of Ho-Chunk floral and geometric designs is a metaphor for the spirits of our ancestors who are constantly looking over us.”
Eric-Paul Riege creates intensely personal textile works grounded in a ritualistic practice of craft which he frequently activates through performance. Works like let the Holy ppl watch over U and Me  are inspired by the artist’s own understanding of Diné thought and philosophy. Jonathan Herrera Soto’s large-scale print evokes conversations around memories, ancestry, and loved ones. Like Riege, Herrera Soto is interested in ritual and the symbolic value of objects. Pulling prints directly from inked-up clothing is a way for the artist to claim vestiges of memory lost to time.
In the sound corridor is a five-channel audio installation by the interdisciplinary collective Postcommodity. This work, featuring the thundering sound of running horses, offers a cutting commentary of American border patrol practices—specifically the treatment of Haitian refugees at the southern border. The large, colorful, and seemingly ominous balloon that hovers in the courtyard was first exhibitedalong the U.S./Mexican border near Douglas, Arizona, and Agua Prieta, Sonora as one of twenty-six in Postcommodity’s temporary land-art monument Repellent Fence (2015).
The works in Snake whiskey still life and other stories are contemporary artifacts of an evolving history defined in the present. Seen together, these diverse practices offer not only a range of material expressions, but a collective of urgent political and social narratives that demand broader exposure in arts institutions today.
Julie Buffalohead (b. 1972, lives and works in St. Paul, Minnesota) is an enrolled member of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma. She received her BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 1995 and her MFA from Cornell University in 2001. Buffalohead is a recipient of numerous awards, including the Guggenheim Fine Arts Fellowship, the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant, and the McKnight Foundation Fellowship for Visual Arts. Her work has been included in group exhibitions at Para Site, Hong Kong; Kunsthal KAdE, Amersfoort, Netherlands; the Weisman Art Museum, Minnesota; and the Carl N. Gorman Museum in Davis, California; among others. She has had solo exhibitions at the Denver Art Museum, Colorado; the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico; the Minnesota Museum of American Art, Minnesota; Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, New York City; and Bockley Gallery, Minnesota. Her work is in numerous museum collections, including the Walker Art Center, Detroit Institute of Arts, and Yale University Art Gallery.
Andrea Carlson (b. 1979, lives and works in Chicago, Illinois) received an MFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 2005, and a BA in Art and American Indian Studies from the University of Minnesota in 2003. Her work was the focus of solo exhibitions at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minnesota; La Centrale Galerie at the Powerhouse, Montreal; the Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art, Winnipeg; the Plains Art Museum, Fargo, North Dakota; and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, New York City, among others. Her work has been featured in numerous group shows across the US, Canada, and Europe, and will be included in the upcoming 2022 Toronto Biennial. Carlson has also worked as a writer, curator, and lecturer, and in 2020 she helped form the Center for Native Futures–the only Native art center in Chicago. Her work is found in institutions such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, the British Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and the National Gallery of Canada.
Jim Denomie (b. 1955, Hayward, Wisconsin) is a member of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Ojibwe. In 1995 he received a BFA from the University of Minnesota and since has shown in over 130 exhibitions throughout the U.S. and internationally. He has garnered numerous prestigious fellowships such as the Bush Fellowship, McKnight Fellowship, Joan Mitchell Fellowship, and most recently, a McKnight Distinguished Artist Award. His work is in the permanent collections of public institutions including the Forge Project, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Walker Art Center, Denver Art Museum, and the Eiteljorg Museum of Western and American Art amongst other public and private collections.
Pao Houa Her (b. 1982, Laos) received an MFA in Photography from the Yale University School of Art in 2012 and a BFA in Photography from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 2009. Her work has garnered solo exhibitions at such institutions as the Minneapolis Institute of Arts; Or Gallery, Vancouver, Canada; and Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, East Lansing, Michigan, and group exhibitions in Europe and Southeast Asia. Her work is found in numerous collections, including the Singapore Art Museum; MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum, Chiang Mai, Thailand; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis Minnesota; and the Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin. Forthcoming exhibitions include The Outwin 2022: American Portraiture Today at the National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC, and a solo presentation at the Walker Art Center.
Tom Jones (b. 1964, lives and works in Madison, Wisconsin) has taught at the University of Wisconsin since 2005. He holds an MFA in Photography and an MA in Museum Studies from Columbia College, Chicago, Illinois. He has shown his works in several solo exhibitions, most recently at Michigan State University and the Wisconsin Veterans Museum. Jones’ work is found in collections such as the Minneapolis Institute of Art; the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, Santa Fe; the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC; the Nerman Museum, Kansas City, Missouri; the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, Illinois; the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas; Microsoft Corporation, Redmond, Washington; and Polaroid Corporation, Waltham, Massachusetts. His work will be featured in the traveling group exhibition The Outwin 2022: American Portraiture Today at the National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC beginning in April 2022.
Brad Kahlhamer (b. 1956, Tucson, Arizona) received his BFA from the University of Wisconsin-Fond in Oshkosh. Support for his work includes the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grant, the Rauschenberg Foundation Residency, the Joan Mitchell Award, and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award in painting amongst others. Recent solo exhibitions include Nation of One, Minnesota Museum of American Art, Saint Paul, Bowery Nation + Hawk + Eagle, Bockley Gallery, Minneapolis, and 36 Hours in Gallup, LOOM Indigenous Art Gallery, Gallup NM. His work is in the public collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Seattle Art Museum, Washington; the Denver Art Museum, Colorado; the Walker Art Center, Minnesota; the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minnesota. Solo shows this spring will include Brad Kahlhamer: Swap Meet at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and Brad Kahlhamer: 11:59 to Tucson at the Tucson Museum of Art.
Postcommodity is an interdisciplinary arts collective currently composed of Cristóbal Martínez (Mestizo) and Kade L. Twist (Cherokee). The collective’s work has been extensively exhibited nationally and internationally, including at the Remai Modern, Saskatoon; LAXART, Los Angeles; Art Institute of Chicago; 57th Carnegie International; 2017 Whitney Biennial; Documenta 14; Art in General, Brooklyn; Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art; 18th Biennale of Sydney; and their historic land art installation Repellent Fence / Valla Repelente at the U.S./Mexico border near Douglas, Arizona and Agua Prieta, Mexico. Postcommodity was awarded the Fine Prize from the 57th Carnegie International, and is the recipient of grants from the Harker Fund of the San Francisco Foundation, Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellowship, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, Art Matters, Creative Capital, and the Joan Mitchell Foundation. The collective’s work can be found in such collections as the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Walker Art Center, Minnesota; Nevada Museum of Art; and Princeton University Art Museum, New Jersey.
Eric-Paul Riege (b. 1994, Na’nízhoozhí/Gallup, New Mexico) is an artist celebrating presence in his mind, body, and beliefs through collage, durational performance, installation, woven sculpture, and wearable art. Riege holds a BFA in Art Studio and Ecology from the University of New Mexico. His work has been exhibited in the SITElines 2018 Biennial at Site Santa Fe, New Mexico; the Navajo Nation Museum in Window Rock, Arizona; the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico; The Institute of Contemporary Art Miami, Florida; Heard Museum, Phoenix, Arizona; and Prospect.5 Triennial, New Orleans, Louisiana. In 2022 his work will be featured in the Toronto Biennial of Art.
Lauren Roche (b. 1983, Santa Rosa, California) is a self-taught artist based in St Louis, Missouri, who frequently travels and works on the road. Her aesthetic is often rooted in autobiography and grapples with the elusive territories of the imagination and memory. An avid reader, Roche cites the magical realist novels of Murakami and Kathy Acker’s punk poetry as influential to her practice. Roche was awarded the 2012-2013 Jerome Foundation Visual Arts Fellowship as well as the 2019 Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Fellowship. Her work has been included in shows at the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, the Delphian Gallery in London, and Material Fair in Mexico City, among others. Her work is held in private collections across Europe and North and South America.
Cara Romero (b 1977, Inglewood, California) is a contemporary fine art photographer. An enrolled citizen of the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe, Romero was raised between contrasting settings: the rural Chemehuevi reservation in the Mojave Desert, California and the urban sprawl of Houston, Texas. Romero’s identity informs her photography, a blend of fine art and editorial photography, shaped by years of study and a visceral approach to representing Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultural memory, collective history, and lived experiences from a Native American female perspective. Romero has shown extensively throughout the United States, and her work has been featured in publications such as Paris Vogue, National Geographic, and the New York Times. Her work is in numerous public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York City; the Denver Art Museum; the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, Los Angeles; and the Autry Museum of the American West, Los Angeles. In 2022, her work will be included in the group show Our Selves: Photographs by Women Artists from Helen Kornblum at the Museum of Modern Art and Water, Wind, Breath: Southwest Art in Community at the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia.
Jonathan Herrera Soto (b. 1994, Chicago, Illinois) received his BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 2017. Recent solo exhibitions of Herrera Soto’s work include “All at Once” at Brown University, Rhode Island; “In Between / Underneath” at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minnesota; and “Querida Presencia” at the Duluth Art Institute, Minnesota. Herrera Soto is a recipient of the Jerome Hill Foundation Fellowship Grant, Brown University Artist Development Grant, Metro Regional Arts Council Next Step Grant, Santo Foundation Individual Artist Award, the Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant, and is a current 2021-2023 Paul and Daisy Soros Fellow supporting work towards an MFA in Painting/Printmaking at the Yale University School of Art.