I have always loved myths and legends. It comes from appreciating a good story and all the things that go into the very best storytelling. The mixed media artwork of Julie Buffalohead shares stories of all types, blending personal narratives and metaphors, as well as cultural ones. But the artist complicates her paintings and drawings by using animals to enact her narratives, essentially making up new and contemporary fables that are playful on one hand but also touch on more serious issues of motherhood, childhood, and Native American stereotypes and identity.
|Hostage by Julie Buffalohead, mixed media on paper, 2008, 19 x 25.5.|
Buffalohead casts all kinds of animals in her stories. Ravens and coyotes play significant roles in Native American culture and stories, but unicorns and teddy bears appear in the artist's mixed media paintings as well. In Hostage, a wolf holds a unicorn up for viewing to a mix of stuffed animals and wild critters that stand watching. The innocuousness of the scene contrasts with the expectation of the dire alarm one expects from the title. Yet this "hostage" situation can be understood by people in all stages of life, from kids who feel that adults hold all the power, to adults who are trapped in situations that are hemming them in. Buffalohead channels it all through her art.
|Sour Cherries by Julie Buffalohead, 24 x 33.5, mixed media on paper.|
The resulting works are charming and enjoyable to view on one hand but also loaded with meaning as you spend more time with them. The artist voices what is going on in her life and in her head through devices we can all relate to and, on a basic level, understand.
Buffalohead is one of many artists who has found a way to tell her stories her way. Just about every issue of Southwest Art profiles painters and sculptors who share this commonality. It is a great resource for artists who have a penchant for collecting, as well as for those of us who just like to know who is out there in the contemporary art scene in the region. Your copy of the latest issue is available now. Enjoy!