Brad Kahlhamer’s Bowery Nation installation brings together 100 katsina-like dolls and 22 birds made from a variety of materials. It speaks to the artist’s Native American roots and his time spent with the creative community on New York City’s Lower East Side.
The table-like construction of Bowery Nation resembles the form of powwow parade floats that carry dancers adorned in colorful feathered and beaded regalia. The structure was made from the artist’s studio materials: an old painting table, saw horses, sheets of plywood, a step ladder and wooden benches.
A consistent theme in Kahlhamer’s work is identity. He was born in Tucson of American Indian parentage, adopted into a family of German-American heritage and later raised in Wisconsin. Bowery Nation represents what he calls his ”third place”, the fusion of his personal identities and mythologies.
Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum July 15 2012 - February 24, 2013
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, March 22 - July 21, 2013
About Brad Kahlhamer
Brad Kahlhamer draws on his tripartite identity in his art, navigating his Native American heritage, adoptive German-American family, and adult life in New York City’s Lower East Side, where he has lived since 1990. In reference to his Native American history, Kahlhamer works with Hopi katsina dolls, but he deviates from their prescribed histories and uses, reimagining the dolls through a neo-expressionist lens and embellishing them with detritus collected from his neighborhood. Kahlhamer similarly combines established artistic traditions with his own history in his painting practice. The artist references hallmarks of 20th-century abstract painting, notably German expressionism and American neo-expressionism, while incorporating a highly personal iconography and absorbing the artistic milieu of downtown Manhattan.
American, b. 1956