“Barack Black Eagle: He Who Helps People Throughout the Land”
Artist Bunky Echo-Hawk painted this piece live at the Native Nations: Uniting for Change event during the Democratic National Convention in 2008.
Earlier in the year, Huffingtonpost featured this painting with about 10 other pieces describing the works as “bizarre.” Hmmm… “bizarre” or simply misunderstood? The “re-imagination” of popular figures, whether historical or fictional, is actually not that bizarre…
Take a look at the varied representations of Jesus… brunette…blonde… brown eyes… blue eyes… wooly hair… flowing locks… “swarthy”… white skin… If you ask most people what the founder of Buddhism looks like, most would describe a smiling jolly and bald Chinese man.
And no, this “bizarre” phenomenon is not limited to religious figures… Have you seen an American movie in the past few years or, oh wait, since Hollywood began producing movies, be it original or remakes? Ironically, the most recent “backlash” against the “re-imagination” of a character was aimed at a young character named “Rue” in “The Hunger Games.” (FYI. It wasn’t Rue’s characterization that was wrong, but the imagination of many of the viewers/readers…).
I can feel the eyes roll… How fitting that I reference religious figures and Hollywood when Obama has been “accused” of being a fake messiah and a “celebrity.”
What I see is positive change… a shift in deep-rooted underlying assumptions that are being challenged more frequently and by many different voices. I read an article in February about the “Linsanity” phenomenom by Yellow Peril that described Jeremy Lin as an “Asian Obama.” Robert Deniro recently came under fire for a joke about it being too soon for a “White First Lady.”
Thank you Bunky Echo-Hawk, for sharing your perspective on how our heroes can capture our collective imaginations…
Bizarre? No. Assumptions challenged. Yes.
And what exactly is “flesh-colored” anyway…?
Proceeds from the sale of Barack Black Eagle prints will be shared with Organizing for America and NVision. NVision is a movement that is “committed to the development of Native youth leadership and traditional and contemporary expressions of art, culture, education, and media from a Native core and perspective.”
Thanks for reading!
Bunky Echo-Hawk is a multi-talented artist whose work spans both media and lifestyle. A graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts, he is a ﬁne artist, graphic designer, photographer, writer and a non-proﬁt professional. He is also a traditional singer and dancer. Throughout his career, Bunky has merged traditional values with his lifestyle and art.
He has exhibited his work in major exhibitions throughout the United States and internationally in NYC, Chicago, Denver, Santa Fe, and Frank- furt, Germany, to name a few. His poetry has been published in magazines and anthologies throughout the country, and his plays have been performed and produced across the nation. Bunky is also an advocate and an educator. He travels extensively, creating live works of art for auction.
Through his art, Bunky has raised thousands of dollars for several national non-proﬁt organizations. Additionally, he speaks at conferences, conducts workshops, and teaches both art and writing. In 2006, Bunky co-founded NVision, serving as Executive Director until 2009. NVision is a nonproﬁt collective of Native American artists, musicians, community organizers, and nonproﬁt professionals who focus on Native American youth empowerment through multimedia arts. Bunky is a 2008 First Peoples Fund Business in Leadership Fellow, a 2008 United States Artist Fellow nominee, a 2008 Joan Mitchell Foundation Fellow nominee, and a 2008 Boulder County Multicultural Award recipient.