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James Luna to present at Ortiz, Labriola Center Lecture on March 21

March 12, 2013

James Luna, prominent Native American performance and installation artist, will speak at the Simon Ortiz and Labriola Center Lecture on Indigenous Land, Culture and Community at 7 p.m., March 21, at the Heard Museum in downtown Phoenix.

Luna will present “Phantasmagoria,” an interactive lecture and performance that will serve to inform the public, but also push the boundaries and leave people reconsidering any preconceived notions about the native population.

As a highly respected member of the art community, Luna is best known for his ability to bring Native American cultural issues, such as economic stability, historical misrepresentation, acculturation and substance abuse, to life via performances, exhibits and installations.

“For the most part, these are issues that are close to me as a native person. I want people to be touched by this, but also see we are not the only ones who are labeled as substance abusers or are misrepresented in history,” he said.

With each performance, Luna says he tries to create something exciting and unexpected for the audience. It is this freedom to be spontaneous that allows him to create visuals and characters as a means for sharing his art.

The partnership between Luna and Simon Ortiz, Regents’ Professor of English and American Indian Studies at Arizona State University, unites what Luna describes as “the old guard.” Both Luna and Ortiz have braved a path for younger artists to chart new territories. Younger generations are now shying away from traditional images, and are following Luna’s technique of using varying subjects and methods.

“Right now we are at a very exciting time in American Indian culture," he said. "Artists, writers and musicians are all emerging and creating these wonderful bodies of work that don’t necessarily look like traditional native pieces.”.

With 35 years experience, more than 41 solo exhibitions and 85 group exhibitions under his belt, Luna says that he is still learning new ways to say things and take risks. He has received numerous grants and awards throughout his career and most notably in 2005 was selected as the first Sponsored Artist of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian presented at the 2005 Venice Biennale’s 51st International Art Exhibition in Venice, Italy.

The Simon Ortiz and Labriola Center Lecture on Indigenous Land, Culture, and Community is sponsored by ASU’s American Indian Policy Institute; American Indian Studies Program; Department of English; Faculty of History in the School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies; Women and Gender Studies in the School of Social Transformation (all units in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences); Indian Legal Program in the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law; The School of Art in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts
and Labriola National American Indian Data Center; with tremendous support from the Heard Museum.

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