Brad Kahlhamer
11/14/2015 - 4/17/2016
Born in the Southwest and adopted as a child, Brad Kahlhamer (pictured right) grew up disconnected from his Native American heritage. In the late 1970s, he visited the Heard Museum in Phoenix, where he had his first experience with Hopi katsina dolls — small masked and costumed figures meant to personify supernatural beings. Kahlhamer found his relationship with the katsinas to be more aesthetic than spiritual, and he began crafting his own doll-like sculptures out of found materials — wire, bicycle tires, bits of fabric, and feathers.

Katsinas and other objects, such as totem poles and dream catchers, with origins in various Native American cultures are recurring elements in Kahlhamer’s diverse body of work. However his paintings, works on
paper, and sculptural tableaux draw on many other sources, most notably the punk style and graffiti aesthetic that characterized New York City’s gritty downtown neighborhoods in the 1980s and early 1990s. Among the artist’s other influences are music, particularly country and western; comic book graphics; and cartoons; as well as Expressionism, Cubism, and Surrealism. Amalgamating these sources, Kahlhamer strives to create what he calls the “Third Place,” a mythological world where lived experience exists on the same plane as imagined reality.

Kahlhamer plans to make new work in response to Joslyn’s Native American collection for his exhibition in the Karen and Doug Riley Contemporary Artists Project Gallery. This fall, the artist is spending six weeks in Omaha, researching Joslyn’s collection and creating his installation for the Riley CAP Gallery.

What's pictured: (below, left to right) VGH JR, 1997, oil on canvas, 30 x 22 inches; East t-shirt, 2009, oil on canvas, 13 7/8 x 10 5/8 inches; © Brad Kahlhamer, Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York