Artist, Standing Rock water protector Cannupa Hanska Luger coming to Fresno State

Cannupa Hanksa Luger

Cannupa Hanska Luger, a renowned Native American artist who made mirrored shields for water protectors at the protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock, will be at Fresno State from March 27 to April 7.

The College of Arts and Humanities’ Center for Creativity and the Arts, in collaboration with the Department of Art and Design, will host Luger, who was born on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.

Luger is a contemporary multimedia sculptor who deconstructs world perceptions about Native identity in his works. He was born in North Dakota and his heritage comes from Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara and Lakota tribes, as well as Austrian and Norwegian descent. He has a studio practice in New Mexico and exhibits at galleries, cultural institutions and museums worldwide.

The Center for Creativity and the Arts commissioned Luger to create a sculpture that reflects his values as a Native American artist. His sculpture will be titled “Pillar” and will consist of life-sized slip casts of Buffalo head forms, which will be glazed or rendered in various colors representing minerals and other resource materials extracted from sacred lands throughout the U.S. The heads will be used as beads, stacked on top of each other, strung onto curved steel beams, allowing audiences to walk through the work in complete immersion, said Cindy Urrutia, director of the Center for Creativity and the Arts.

According to Luger, “’Pillar’ represents America’s continued force of narrative onto the land through the legacy of colonization. Our contemporary ‘Age of Discovery’ includes resource extraction, imposed borders, continued Indigenous genocide and our general separation from the land as human beings. Every living Nation is being destroyed in this pursuit. As human beings, we are responsible to the ancestors and descendants of all living things for how we live; not to the dominant colonial power and corporate industries that have led us to believe we are separate from the land.”

In addition to the commission, Luger and members of the Fresno State art community will present an exhibition of works during his time here. Luger and company will create un-glazed slip casts of buffalo heads and will decorate them in community. These heads will be exhibited at M Street Graduate Studios in an exhibition titled “Old Dominion.” Participation with Luger is free and open to the public.

A dedication ceremony for “Pillar” will take place at 1:30 p.m. on April 7, on the west lawn of the Conley Arts Building. At the dedication ceremony, Luger will donate an art piece to Fresno State’s Native American Alumni Club. Proceeds from the sale of the art piece will to be used for scholarships awarded by that club.

Luger will present an Artist Lecture from 3:30 to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 4, in the Alice Peters Auditorium in the Peters Business Building. An Artist Exhibit and Reception will held from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 6, at the M Street Graduate Studios.

Information is available by contacting Urrutia at or 559.278.8341.

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The College of Arts and Humanities provides a diverse student population with the communication skills, humanistic values and cultural awareness that form the foundation of scholarship. The college offers intellectual and artistic programs that engage students and faculty and the community in collaboration, dialog and discovery. These programs help preserve, illuminate and nourish the arts and humanities for the campus and for the wider community.

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