During graduate school at UCLA, when artist and Emerson Collective Fellow Wendy Red Star found herself feeling homesick for the Apsáalooke community in which she grew up, she decided to visit a natural history museum in Los Angeles where she knew she could view a collection of Native American artifacts. But when she saw pieces of her culture on display, instead of feeling at home, she saw all the ways her community has been misrepresented and overlooked. It was the first time she found herself critiquing one of the institutions that perpetuate much of the common knowledge of Native people in the U.S., questioning how it presented her culture’s objects and stories.
The trip to the museum eventually led to the creation of her self-portrait piece “Four Seasons.” Such is the way Red Star’s artistic process has unfolded throughout her career: as she learns more about her own culture, and how it has been manipulated and depicted, she utilizes this knowledge to recast historical narratives with a feminist, Indigenous perspective. Her expansive body of work includes photography, textiles, bead work, collage, archival and site-specific installations, evolving into new shapes and forms with each new idea.
We were joined in conversation by Red Star on the occasion of her first monograph, Delegation, which includes an array of her photo-based work from 2006 to present, as well as essays, stories, and poems that showcase her nuanced artistic vision. Here, in conversation with Emerson’s Fellowships & Portfolio Communications Director Patrick D’Arcy, she shares that vision with us.