Inspired by the visual iconography of Blackfoot painted lodges, Santa Fe–based artist Terran Last Gun/ Sah’kwiinaamah’kaa (Piikani) is working to create a new aesthetic in the tradition of Indigenous ledger drawings by using geometric abstractions rather than representational imagery.
His crisp, minimalist drawings made with colored pencils on gifted sheets of ledger paper explore “the varying relationships between color, shape, nature, and sky.” Various dates stamped on the antique papers prompt Last Gun to consider what his own people, and other Indigenous peoples, were experiencing at the time.
Born in Montana, Last Gun moved to New Mexico to attend the Institute of American Indian Arts, where he earned degrees in museum studies and studio art. In addition to drawing, his creative practice includes printmaking, painting, and photography. He’s also painted murals, which reflect his affinity for pop art and op art.
Last Gun describes his work as a visual interpretation of nature, the cosmos, cultural narratives, and recollections of home. By pulling out the land, geography, and symbols of painted lodges, he’s seeking to counter cultural appropriation. Beyond making art, Last Gun is advocating for increased access for Indigenous peoples to the objects from their Nations that are housed in museum collections. “From our cultural perspective these are living things, and they need to be reanimated,” he explains.
In 2024, Last Gun will have his first solo art exhibition in Montana. Even so, he plans to stay in Santa Fe, where he’s excited about bringing his Plains Indigenous perspective to the Southwest. Last Gun says he’s looking for more places to show his work beyond Native-centric markets. “Indigenous art history is American art history,” he says. “I want to be part of that conversation.”
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