The rez dog is often used poetically to depict suffering, but as a species, they’ve gained nothing from it. Subverting the idea of who art is made for, the series REZ DOGS was created specifically for a rez dog audience.
The paintings compositions are based on elaborate Victorian paintings of upper-class pedigrees. In my work, these pure breeds have been replaced and their landscapes overtaken and indigenized. Painted in hues and values according to a dog’s visual spectrum, the work is hung low completely catering to the rez dog, who through survival and natural selection, have created themselves.
By appropriating a mass-produced plaster mold technique during the 1920s and 30s, of quickly made dog figurines. These sculptures have been recast in white china porcelain, elevating their material prestige, while at the same time indigenizing them by placing them with contemporary food like fry bread and Vienna sausages. This displacement from their original context, inserts a new narrative of native humor and a continuation of cultivating the modern myth of the rez dog.
Rez Dog Remains
Like humor, the western narrative of man vs nature is more about death than survival. The partial rez dog skeleton is displayed in a museum quality case, signaling the Eurocentric Victorian gaze of objectification. The remains have been placed with care, but still layered with the original dirt of their resting place. Surrounded by flour, fry bread, and wild sunflowers, the remains begin to resemble an altar. Honoring a species that though survivance and adaptation will long out last ours.
The contemporary gallery remains a space steeped in the history of elitism. During the shows life span, rez dogs will be invited and encouraged to overtake this gallery setting. Refreshments and snacks will also be provided for canine guests. This project also works in collaboration with various rez dog rescues and shelters in which a
portion of the proceed will benefit.
Chaz John (b. 1987) is an indigenous artist (Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska / Mississippi Band Choctaw) and activist currently attending the Institute of American Indian arts. Chaz works primarily with opaque and raw images. Producing quickly lined and illuminated mixed media drawings and paintings in an effort to capture what he calls “indigenous poetry in the face of conflict”. Chaz often blurs the lines of conceptual and traditional 2D work, constructing performative and conceptual actions with drawings and paintings often as documentation. Interested in the formation of the modern myth and poetic reification, Chaz’s work is built to be accessible, yet simultaneously layered with subversion and indigenous humor.
• 2019: SITE Scholar Award
• 2017 – 2019: Full Circle Scholar Award
• 2017-2019: American Indian College Fund Award
• 2017-2019: Winnebago Higher Education Scholarship
• 2017-2019: IAIA CIB Scholarship
• 2017-2019: IAIA GPA Scholarship
• Merit Scholarship School of the Art Institute of Chicago
• Rez Dogs II I Ellsworth Gallery I Santa Fe, NM I 2019
• Rez Dogs Redux I Ellsworth Gallery I Santa Fe, NM I 2018
• Rez Dogs I Ellsworth Gallery I Santa Fe, NM I 2018
• SITE Scholars Exhibition I SITE I Santa Fe, NM I 2019
• Drawing and Driving I Axel Contemporary I Santa Fe, NM I 2019
• Edge Contemporary 2 I SWAIA I Santa Fe, NM I 2019
• IAIA BFA Show I MoCNA I Santa Fe, NM I 2019
• In the Ruins of the Anthropocene I Ellsworth Gallery I Santa Fe, NM I 2019
• MicroCosm I Form and Concept I Santa Fe, NM I 2018
• Dogs I Winnow Gallery I Santa Fe, NM I 2018
• Edge Contemporary I SWAIA I Santa Fe, NM I 2018
• Mirror Box: Strangers Collective I Form and Concept I Santa Fe, NM I 2018
• Native Nations I Ellsworth Gallery I Santa Fe, NM I 2017
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