Synthesis is Aza Erdrich’s premier solo exhibition with works that pull from her life as a young woman of mixed Native and non-Native ancestry growing up in Minneapolis. She draws influence from Annishinaabe artistic traditions and personal experience to create uniquely coded works of self and familial narrative.
Throughout these works, I contemplate Anishinaabe identity, familial narrative and personal growth. My paintings unfold on a grid – mostly visible, sometimes imperceptible, but always present. My approach to gridwork is at times confrontational. For me, the grid evokes a Western imposition of boundaries and measurements.
Whether it is in terms of geography, time or identity, my work acknowledges that contemporary society is heavily codified and digitized. Within this “modern” existence, Native people have been subject to extreme forms of measurement: lands allotted, artifacts and ancestors exhumed to be catalogued, and the blood quantum of individuals generationally mapped. These systems impose their structure on my lived identity as a fair-skinned Native woman.
Concurrently, my goal is to experiment with the constraints of the grid by suffusing Anishinaabe symmetry into my work. This feels natural to me, as these cultural elements informed my artistic growth from an early age. If you were to visit my family’s home, you would witness our culture’s visual language, one of skillful love and balance, present in jewelry, baskets, beadwork, quilts and artwork. I am continually inspired by these designs and patterns, as well as how we choose to adorn our loved ones and life itself.
I seek a visual synthesis, a way to harmonize this multitude of complexities into a form unique to my individual experience. Each piece is a re-imposition; sometimes I succumb to the grid, at times I shirk the grid, but my ultimate aim is to create a vantage point that transcends boundaries.
Aza Erdrich is a fifth-generation Turtle Mountain Ojibwe artist and grew up in Minneapolis. She graduated from Dartmouth College in 2012 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Studio Art, minoring in Native American Studies.
She has exhibited her work previously in group exhibits at Two Rivers Gallery in Minneapolis; Flagstaff Center for the Arts in Flagstaff, AZ; Red Door Gallery in Wahpeton, ND; Banfil-Locke Center for the Arts in Anoka, MN and the Jaffe-Friede Gallery in Hanover, NH. Her artwork and design has been featured as illustration and cover art for a number of publications including: Daga Anishinaabemodaa by Pebaamibines Dennis Jones; Original Local by Heid E Erdrich; Skin Walking by Cole DeLaune; The Round House by Louise Erdrich as well as other books by the author.
You can learn more about Aza Erdrich’s artwork at AzaErdrich.com.
On view: March 18th – May 27th, 2016
Opening reception: Friday, March 18th, 2016 7 pm
Artist Talk: Aza Erdrich, Dyani White Hawk and other guest. May 6th, 2016 7 pm
February 25, 2016