Live painting performance coming to Willamette

Native American artist Bunky Echo-Hawk will use audience interaction to create a painting live, from 7-8 p.m. on Feb. 1 at Willamette University's Ford Hall. A reception with the artist follows the event.

The performance celebrates Founder's Day at Willamette and is part of the university's Indian Country Conversation Series. It is free and open to the public.

According to Professor Rebecca Dobkins, who coordinates the series, "Bunky Echo-Hawk was selected because he represents a dynamic new wave of Native American expression. He has the extraordinary ability to spark respectful dialogue with his audiences about controversial issues." 

Echo-Hawk will elicit ideas, themes and concerns from the audience, and, in response, create the painting.  He will also perform selections of his hip-hop compositions and share images of his artwork during the performance. 

A graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts and a former Toyota Fellow at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University, Echo-Hawk works to empower youth and address culturally relevant issues through teaching and performance art. "It is my goal to truly exemplify the current state of Native America," said Echo-Hawk.

"I get inspired and motivated to do my art from injustice in Indian country," Echo-Hawk said in a recent interview posted on YouTube. "There are a great number of atrocities that our people faced throughout the past 500 years. My fuel for my art comes from how those atrocities affect us today as Americans - as Native Americans." He also uses art to correct stereotypes about Native Americans. "Through art, that can be achieved," Echo-Hawk said. "It can set sparks off in people's minds, in people's hearts, and inspire them to want to look at these issues and do something about it."

Echo-Hawk's artwork was featured at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian in the 2009 group exhibition "Ramp It Up:  Skateboard Culture in Native America."  The exhibition celebrated the vibrancy, creativity and controversy of American Indian skate culture. 

The Indian Country Conversations Series was established in 2005 by Willamette University President M. Lee Pelton to bring Native American guests to campus for dialogue, teaching and learning. The series is sponsored by Willamette's Office of the President and College of Liberal Arts. Professor Rebecca Dobkins coordinates the event in consultation with the university's community-based Native American Advisory Council.