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Contemporary artists from diverse backgrounds worked in varying levels of collaboration with artist Cannupa Hanska Luger to present Lazy Stitch, an exhibition which investigates the interconnectedness of the human story. Through social engagement, public art, monumental sculpture, mural installation, photography, performance and wearable sculptural regalia, Lazy Stitch takes the relationship of the bead and the thread as its context, co-creating narrative about life on this planet. 

"What constitutes a bead is the hole. It holds the thread. The voided matter actually creates the function of the object. This void becomes the potential for connection. In this respect, finding value in the relationship between humans acknowledges the importance of intersecting experiences which create a larger narrative."  -Cannupa Hanska Luger    

The term lazy stitch describes a sewing methodology often used in Indigenous beadwork. Individual multi-colored beads are threaded and sewn, one row at a time, eventually revealing a complex image when all rows are complete. The lazy stitch is an approach to craft-making, but also represents a value system in which each individual is important to the whole. Lazy Stitch uses this metaphor as a way to explore contemporary issues through collaborative practice, while revealing the potential for collective social agency.  

Organized by artist Cannupa Hanska Luger, Lazy Stitch brings together five contemporary artists across land, race, culture, gender and time to investigate intersecting human experiences. The collected works explore the strength and resilience necessary to human survival. The artworks illustrate a deep connection to the land and the importance of ceremony, story and intention; they demonstrate generational respect and honor gender gradience. Lazy Stitch threads into this emerging pattern the traumatic outcomes of extractive industry, stolen and murdered community members, and the negative implications of the prison and military industries. Through various hands-on collaborative practices, the exhibition reveals balance, dependency and intersection.   Each artist works in collaboration with artist Cannupa Hanska Luger to create an intersecting narrative through the individual works presented.  


Anchoring the exhibition is Every One, a social collaboration culminating in a monumental sculptural installation by Cannupa Hanska Luger in collaboration with hundreds of communities from across the US and Canada. Composed of over 4,000 individual 2" handmade clay beads and representing the photograph Sister (2016) by First Nations photographer Kali Spitzer, Every One references the data of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, queer and trans community members in Canada as noted in research gathered by the Native Women's Association of Canada in 2016. Spitzer also presents Sister, a photography and sound installation which further honors MMIWQT community members.

Shoulders of Giants is a grouping of ceramic buffalo skulls created by Cannupa Hanska Luger in collaboration with artist and activist Jesse Hazelip referencing the effects of industrialization such as in the prison and military industries; the skulls are interlocked with barbed wire and carved with prison-style inscriptions by Hazelip. Hazelip also exhibits Los Banditos and Dreamer, two hand-drawn buffalo figures presented as a monumental-scale mural.

The One Who Checks & The One Who Balances is a set of futuristic regalia created by Cannupa Hanska Luger with beadwork by multi-disciplinary artist Kathy Elkwoman Whitman; the costumes have been worn in performative actions of political resistance in response to communities whose land and culture are impacted by resource extraction, water rights, borders, and even gentrification.

Artist, activist and photographer Chip Thomas creates Return of the Warrior Twins, a photographic mural installation depicting The One Who Checks & The One Who Balances in performative acts of resistance to extractive industry, photographed onsite at the Navajo nation, AZ.

This is Not A Snake is a monumental sculpture by Cannupa Hanska Luger compiled from oil drums, ammunition cans, trash, found objects, steel and ceramic along with collective-made additions from participating artists; the work references industrial exploitation of the land and its minerals and is context for onsite interactions. 

Likewise, Everything Anywhere is a land art installation on the outside grounds of UCCS Ent Center for the Arts as part of GOCA's AWOL: Art WithOut Limits program. Developed collaboratively between UCCS students, UCCS Outdoor Services staff, and Cannupa Hanska Luger, the sculptural installation will transform throughout the exhibition, acknowledging nature through matriarchal form. 

For the exhibition's opening event; collaborative performance project 1000 Tiny Mirrors presents a site-specific rope-work performance that honors gender gradience. The performance apparatus and detritus will remain on display for the exhibition's duration as well as video documentation of the live performance. 

As a collection of individual and collaborative artworks, the exhibition weaves together a story and a context; it represents an emergent cosmology of interconnectedness with earth and each other.     


Cannupa Hanska Luger is a New Mexico-based, multi-disciplinary artist. Raised on the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, he is of Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lakota, Austrian, and Norwegian descent. Using social collaboration and in response to timely and site-specific issues, Luger produces multi-pronged projects that take many forms. Through monumental installations that incorporate ceramics, video, sound, fiber, steel, and cut-paper, Luger interweaves performance and political action to communicate stories about 21st century Indigeneity. This work provokes diverse publics to engage with Indigenous peoples and values apart from the lens of colonial social structuring and oftentimes presents a call to action to protect land from capitalist exploits. He combines critical cultural analysis with dedication and respect for the diverse materials, environments, and communities he engages.   Luger's work has been exhibited internationally in such places as the Autry Museum of the American West; the National Center for Civil and Human Rights; and Art Mûr Montreal. He lectures and participates in residencies around the globe and his work is in many public collections. Luger is a founding member of Winter Count, an interdisciplinary artist collective responding to land and water threatened by extractive industry. Luger holds a BFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts and was a 2016 Native Arts & Cultures Foundation Artist Fellow.    

Chip Thomas, aka "jetsonorama" is a native of North Carolina. His life direction changed when he attended a small, alternative Quaker school in the mountains of North Carolina (the Arthur Morgan School). He is a photographer, public artist, activist and physician who has been working between Monument Valley and The Grand Canyon in the Navajo nation since 1987. He coordinates the Painted Desert Project - a community building effort which manifests as a constellation of murals across western Navajo Nation painted by artists from all over the world. Thomas' own public artwork consists of enlarged black and white photographs pasted on structures along the roadside on the Navajo nation. His motivation is to reflect back his community the love and beauty they've shared with him over the years. He sees this work as an evolving dialog with his community. Thomas is a member of the Justseeds Artists Co-operative, an international cooperative of 30 socially engaged artists. You can find his large scale photographs pasted in the northern Arizona desert, on the graphics of the People's Climate March, the National Geographic Blog,, the Huffington Post and elsewhere.   

Jesse Hazelip | The work of multidisciplinary artist and activist Jesse Hazelip confronts toxic Western cultural practices and social injustices including the inhumanity of the for-profit prison industry, continued police brutality and the violent impacts of extractive industry on indigenous peoples and the land. Hazelip is known for his skilled drawings of various animal forms which embody concept and act to guide the public towards developing further understanding, empathy and action. Hazelip's practice ranges from monumental site specific illegal installation printed wheatpaste cutouts and mural installations on public walls to detailed paintings on found objects and fine-line pen and ink drawings. Hazelip also carves prison imagery and script into animal bone, creates performance and installation work and engages in long term collaborations with other artists, homeless youth and incarcerated peers. Since 2014 Hazelip has maintained an ongoing tattoo performance protest project where the artist adorns his head and face with tattoos specifically critiquing the US prison industrial complex. Hazelip holds a BFA from Art Center College of Design and currently resides on the West Coast, USA. Hazelip has shown extensively at galleries throughout the United States and internationally, and his work resides in numerous private collections.                  

Kali Spitzer is Kaska Dena from Daylu (Lower Post, British Columbia) on her father's side and Jewish from Transylvania, Romania on her mother's side. She is from the Yukon and grew up on the West Coast of British Columbia in Canada on unceded Coast Salish Territory. She is a trans-disciplinary artist who mainly works with film - 35mm, 120 and wet plate collodion process using an 8x10 camera. Her work includes portraits, figure studies, and photographs of her people, ceremonies, and culture. Her work has been exhibited and recognized internationally. Spitzer recently received a Reveal Indigenous Art Award from the Hnatyshyn Foundation in Canada. At the age of 20, Kali moved back north to spend time with her Elders, and to learn how to hunt, fish, trap, tan moose and caribou hides and bead. Kali documents these practices with a sense of urgency, highlighting their vital cultural significance. She focuses upon cultural revitalization through her art whether in the medium of photography, ceramics, tanning hides or hunting. She views all of these practices as art and as part of an exploration of self.   "I want to extend my gratitude to all of the people who have trusted me to photograph them in such intimate ways. Mussi Cho"  

Kathy Elkwoman Whitman comes from the Mandan-Hidatsa- Arikara Nation, on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota, and also Norwegian descent. A true multidisciplinary artist, Elkwoman is a stone and metal sculptor, a painter, a jeweler, and a fashion and furniture designer. Through her extensive journey of being an Indigenous artist, she has been honored with many prestigious awards and participated in numerous exhibitions around the world. Elkwoman is a member of the Indigenous Sculptor Society and continues to lead art workshops and participate in artist residencies throughout the United States and Europe. The artwork she has created over her lifetime is in notable collections throughout the world.  

1000 Tiny Mirrors is a collaborative performance project fiercely centering vulnerability and complexity as a means to resist compartmentalization and passification of our divergence and connection. Incorporating multimedia work, original music and other skill-sets such as aerial rope, we offer anthems uplifting the messy reality that connects and creates us. 1000 Tiny Mirrors is continually evolving and grounded in the belief that each action is a collaboration; that creative work is always and undeniably made in the dynamism of relationship. The project inquires into the spaces that embody the complexities of creating; sustaining and responding, affirming the ache, risk, conflict, joy, humor, sincerity, queer-loving, in-between, undone, rage, grief, heartbreak, taboo, mistakes, perseverance and the transformation of ourselves as reflections of our complex ecologies. We honor felt experiences as a means to reflect reality more fully. We create spaciousness to get us through the storms and the crush of oppression. We show reverence to the inherent resistance and brilliance that is holding and caring for what we were not meant to through the methods of imperialism, capitalism, erasure and implicitness. 1000 Tiny Mirrors is an invitation to breathe into the lived paradoxes and conflicts of devising solutions based in care, equity and dignity for the earth we inhabit and the people and creatures who are a part of it.

Lazy Stitch was organized by artist Cannupa Hanska Luger with collaborating artists: Chip Thomas, Jesse Hazelip, Kali Spitzer, Kathy Elkwoman Whitman, 1000 Tiny Mirrors; and exhibited May 3 - July 21, 2018 at Marie Walsh Sharpe Gallery of Contemporary Art @ Ent Center for the Arts, Colorado Springs, CO

Image courtesy of UCCS GoCA 2018

Image courtesy of UCCS GoCA 2018