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Neuf for Modoc

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Edgar Heap of Birds is one of the most provocative and prominent Native American artists working today. This print is a continuation of his "Neuf Series" (Neuf is the Cheyenne number four), and title refers to the Modoc of northern California and southern Oregon who engaged in armed resistance against the U.S. military in the late nineteenth century, to fight removal from their homelands. Of the Neuf series, which he calls "celebratory color-contrast paintings," Heap of Birds has written: These works are on-going and originate from the western Oklahoma canyon lands. In 1980 I returned to live on the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribal reservation lands. From this rural yet invigorating landscape a painted language began. This language evolved from the cedar trees which populate the grasslands along with the arroyos within the red earth. In 1994 research was begun with urban aboriginal artists in Sydney and Adelaide, Australia. A major collaborative touring exhibition titled 16 Songs was the outcome from the experience along with a striking visualization stemming from swimming in the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia. A vision from the dynamic and multi-colored fish gave new vitality to the Neuf Series paintings. In the paintings' original phase, the landscape played a major role in the composition. At this point the water-world has merged with the pastoral tree forms to create a pulse of color in shapes that grow, overlap and swim through the picture plane. The issue of motion offers a positive notion of movement and change which always holds hope.