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Art

#Chris Pappan#drawing#identity#portraits

A Colossal Interview: Chris Pappan On Connecting to His Ancestors, Stereotypes, and the Center for Native Futures

August 28, 2023

Grace Ebert

Two portraits of a man staring toward the center of found ledger paper with flowers in the corners

“Relatives.” All images © Chris Pappan, shared with permission

For Chris Pappan, distinguishing between the past and present, the present and the future, is irrelevant. Time, for him, is circular and cyclical, an understanding he discusses in a new conversation with Colossal.

Our people believe that our ancestors are always with us and watching over us. I think that’s very important. In a lot of my work, I try to honor our ancestors in that way. I’m always looking at old photographs, and I feel like I’m communicating directly with them. Whether they’re my direct ancestors or indirect ancestors, that’s really special… I don’t want it to stay in the past. It’s about the present and the future, as well.

A citizen of the Kaw (Kanza) Nation and of Osage, Lakota, and European descent, Pappan is invested in honoring his ancestors while emphasizing Native American contemporaneity. He often works on municipal ledger paper and other found substrates to depict people in photorealistic detail, mirroring their faces and forms and creating myriad metaphors for split selves, distortion, and human interaction that transcend time and space.

In this conversation, Pappan discusses his evolution as an artist, the complex nature of Indigenous life in Chicago, and the importance of his new venture, the Center for Native Futures.

Read the interview.

Three distorted portraits on a wall in a Y shape with a blue line running through them

“Howageji Nizhuje Akipé (Where the Rivers Meet)” (2023)

#Chris Pappan#drawing#identity#portraits

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