Award-winning American Indian performance artist James Luna to bring Native Stories, multimedia expertise to UND and Grand Forks

The University of North Dakota Department of Art & Design will play host to award-winning Luiseño Indian performance artist James Luna next month.

Luna’s performance art piece, titled Native Stories, premieres in North Dakota at 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 24, at the Empire Arts Center in Downtown Grand Forks.

In this performance work, Luna combines and refines selected monologue and conceptual performance pieces from his vast repertoire with new stories. Luna’s intent is for the audience to become familiar with his Pooyukitchum (Luiseno) peoples, whose territory is located in the North County San Diego, Calif., area.

Luna will take the public on a nostalgic visit to his grandparents’ kitchen, where tribal knowledge and family values came alive during the early summer canning of fruits and vegetables. He also will invite the public to understand some very basic concepts of Indian ceremony and dance in “We Become Them.”

The finale of the performance is a ride to heaven and hell upon “Luna’s War Pony.” The public should prepare for an exhilarating roller coaster ride of emotions, thoughts, insightful stories and visual moments.

Following the Native Stories, the audience is invited to engage in a question-and-answer session moderated by UND faculty. A public reception will also take place in the Arts Collections Gallery before and after the performance (with the artist in attendance after the performance).

The event is free and open to the public. The Empire Arts Center is located at 405 Demers Ave.

In addition to the performance at the Empire Arts Center:

  • Luna will give a public presentation, titled “Phantasmagoria: A Multimedia Lecture,” at 1 p.m., Monday, April 22, in the Josephine Campbell Recital Hall at UND’s Hughes Fine Arts Center.
  • UND American Indian Student Services will host a reception for Luna at 3p.m.-4:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 23, at the UND American Indian Center, 315 Princeton St.

James Luna

James Luna lives in two worlds. “I once felt torn as to who I was,” said Luna, “but, in maturity, I have come to find the source of my power, and can move between places and not feel I have to choose.” Born in 1950, he earned a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree from University of California, Irvine. In a notable performance from the 1970s, he unpacked a bag filled with “Indian” objects and created new rituals. In Artifact Piece at the Museum of Man, in San Diego, in 1987, he exhibited himself in a glass case. The National Museum of the American Indian nominated Luna to participate in the Venice Biennale in 2005, citing his emotionally compelling performances that dramatically expand the possibilities of American Indian art.

Contact: Department of Art & Design at 701.777.2257

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