Artist-In-Residence Strives To Spark Thought, Conversation

Feb 25, 2019

Ben Pease in studio at Yellowstone Art Museum
Credit Kayla Desroches / YPR

The Yellowstone Art Museum’s artist-in-residence, Ben Pease, who’s Crow and Northern Cheyenne, strives to make people question what they see in his art.

Ben Pease drew a leaping horse on wall of his studio in black marker to illustrate the type of stylized drawings found on “ledger art.”

Horse Ben Pease drew on wall next to example of how he uses ledger art in his work
Credit Kayla Desroches / YPR

Historically, he said, Native Americans drew on top of deer or buffalo hides in order to depict dream states or experiences. He explained how people eventually started drawing on paper instead.

“There’s a number of different stories about not having the right to travel off your land to hunt or fish,” said Pease. “And there’s certain stories about peoples being in confinement and starting ledger art.”

Like these artists did in the past, Pease sometimes draws and paints on top of nineteenth-century paper. Many of his pieces are heavily steeped in history.

Some address indigenous images in American pop culture. Others reference missing and murdered Native American women and girls.

It takes more than a glance to absorb all the different elements of his work.

Pease said he hopes his art makes people think.

“I just want people to walk away with half a question in their head,” he said.

Pease will spend a year as the Yellowstone Art Museum’s Artist-in-Residence, from November 2018 to 2019.