In his immersive Atrium installation, Marty Two Bulls, Jr. critiques American consumerism through a layered retelling of the history of the Oglala Lakota tribe. Using the metaphor of the bison, one of the first American resources consumed almost to extinction, Two Bulls, Jr. charts a complex wasteland out of everyday materials: trash cans, beer bottles, barbed wire. The ghost-like bison emerges from this landscape, advancing a story of eradication and survival and ultimately persisting in its sacredness and abundance.
The artist invites visitors to delve deeper into the history of the bison as well as the Oglala Lakota tribe through interactive QR codes found throughout the installation and consider lessons from the past for our collective present. American settlers decimated bison populations in the mid-to-late 1800s to deprive the Oglala Lakota of their livelihood, as the nomadic tribe would follow the migrating bison across the Plains to survive. Forced detachment from ancestral knowledge and ways of living was catastrophic for the Oglala Lakota, as well as other Indigenous tribes across America. In Dominion, Two Bulls, Jr. offers both a lens and a mirror to reflect on the importance of conserving natural resources and striving towards a non-exploitative relationship with our environment.
This AAM-commissioned project is generously sponsored by Carol Gordean, Mary Ann Schindler, and Joseph Minarick in memory of Carol Minarick, artist and friend of the Museum. Additional support provided by Donna and Jim Alpi.
Marty Two Bulls Jr. is an artist and educator based in Rapid City, SD. Two Bulls is an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota Tribe and was raised in the high plains of South Dakota. Two Bulls comes from a family of diverse artists. His father, Marty Two Bulls Sr., is an accomplished artist and was Two Bulls’ first art instructor. Two Bulls grew up in his father’s studio where he learned the fundamentals of sculpture, illustration, graphic design and most importantly how to make a living as a creative person. Two Bulls eventually went on to study printmaking and ceramics at The Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM where he earned a Bachelors in Fine Arts in 2011. In 2017 he was offered a full time faculty position with Oglala Lakota College (OLC) to teach art. Two Bulls jumped at the opportunity to return to his homelands and work with his tribal community. Since returning home, Two Bulls has created a Graphic Arts program at OLC and continues to work as a positive force for the arts in his communities both near and far. Two Bulls has exhibited his artwork in galleries and museums both nationally and internationally with works in several museum permanent collections.