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Heritage and history inform works of art
24 June 2013

BISMARCK (UTN) - United Tribes Technical College art student Cody Carlson says he was exploring his own heritage and history when he painted remarkable American Indian leaders in acrylic colors on large canvases.

Art student Cody Carlson presenting his work to humanities and art students.
Submitted photo

      An enrolled member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe in Montana, Carlson presented three of his works to students and instructors in two United Tribes classes.

      Depicted in the vividly-colored images that appear so different than the historic photos they came from, are important tribal leaders of the 19th Century: Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce; Dull Knife and Little Wolf, both Cheyenne; and Sitting Bull, Hunkpapa Lakota.

      In the April presentation to the Introduction to Humanities class and the Art Marketing class, Carlson explained that these representations are done as modern paintings using modern techniques. By exploring his own heritage and history he is bringing it into the present.

"These paintings give me more meaning than I could ever give them."
Artist Cody Carlson

Carlson is careful about the meaning of these paintings. He says that he, as the artist, does not give meaning to these tribal leaders and their historical experiences, but rather, the artistic process gives meaning to his own life.

      During a discussion and question period, students and instructors expressed their reactions.

      Humanities instructor Brian Palecek said the presentation was one of the most intellectually stimulating and satisfying experiences he has had in 25 years of teaching at United Tribes.

      "This was very moving to me but also very intriguing," said Palecek. "I'm fascinated with Cody's comment that he gets meaning from the process of creating works of art of his Native background."

      Graphic Design/Marketing instructor Colleen Bredahl says Carlson is very passionate about painting traditional, cultural art in a modern way.

      "All drawings used in his paintings have meaning to his culture and tradition," said Bredahl. "He's very selective about what he paints; they all tell a story."

      Making a connection with the past is what inspired Carlson to use these particular images. "The idea of attaching myself to the images of my past through using my passion for paints, I could bridge a bond between my past and myself," he said. "So that's why I say these paintings give me more meaning than I could ever give them."

      Carlson's Chief Joseph canvas measures 30x40; Dull Knife and Little Wolf 48x24; and Sitting Bull 30x40.

      More information: Colleen Bredahl 701-255-3285 x 1419, cbredahl@uttc.edu.


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