This is serious business.
courtesy Adrian Stimson

Artist breaks down preconceptions

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Students and lovers of all art at the university are going to get a special treat this weekend. Multi-media visual artist Adrian Stimson will be on hand at the Nickel Arts Museum on Friday, as part of the University of Calgary Fine Arts Department's Visiting Artist Lecture Series. As he goes about his lecture, he'll discuss his current exhibition Old Sun- mounted at the Truck Contemporary Art Gallery starting Oct. 10- his own process of creating art and even observing student's work.

"It's a real pleasure to visit the university," says Stimson. "I'll be visiting with the artists in residence, doing some studio visits as well. That gives the students a chance to interact with myself as an artist and look at their work and comment it."

Stimson, who is a member of the Siksika Nation in southern Alberta, has used bits and pieces of an old school known as the Chief Old Son Residential School in the Old Sun exhibition. His art reappropriates imagery from white history and then recreates and reconceptualizes it into a more comedic criticism of the colonial conquest of the aboriginal peoples of Canada.

This is brought out most evidently when Stimson adopts the fishnet stocking, g-string and buffalo corset of his Buffalo Boy character. The character is a campy trickster who co-opts the imagery of Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show, turning that imagery and historical iconography on its ear.

"The colonial critique infuses my work, especially my performative work with Buffalo Boy," explains Stimson. "It uses Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Shows as a base, but a lot of my performances are more contemporary and speak to current events, playing on the whole west image and identity in relation to the first nation or the Indian construction. I will be speaking to that intent and why I play in that realm."

The character was created during his work in the masters of fine arts program at the University of Saskatchewan as Stimson researched the imagery and mythologization of the west and of the Aboriginal people and, he says, is a hoot to play.

"It's fun, for me anyway," he says. "I was doing a lot of research into the construction of images and how the romanticization of Aboriginal people were constructed and how that continues today. It's a static sort of way that it doesn't show the contemporary side of Aboriginal people. I like to mix that up and throw in my own sort of comment on the contemporary scene."

This is the last performance of Buffalo Boy as we know it as he will be killed off at the Boris Roubikane Theatre in Buffalo Boy's Last Stand: The Battle of Little Bighorney. It shows the crossroads he's at currently- maturing as an artist and as a person.

"This performance will be a kind of eulogy for Buffalo Boy," says Stimson. "It's a funeral of sorts. Through the three different movements, and the three different acts of this performance, will be the eulogy."