Dou­ble vi­sion

Writer and artist Monty Lit­tle

Pasatiempo - - CONTENTS - Michael Abatemarco

Writer and artist Monty Lit­tle

AF­TER MONTY LIT­TLE fin­ished his ser­vice abroad in the Ma­rine Corps, he be­gan ex­press­ing him­self and his ex­pe­ri­ences in writ­ing. Around 2008, he turned his at­ten­tion to other Na­tive writ­ers for in­spi­ra­tion. He no­ticed that sev­eral of them, such as poet Sher­win Bit­sui, had at­tended the In­sti­tute of Amer­i­can In­dian Arts. The fa­ther of his girl­friend at the time was an alum­nus of IAIA and en­cour­aged Lit­tle to look into the school. “I started to learn the his­tory of the school,” Lit­tle told Pasatiempo. “I started to learn who all the alumni were. I wanted to be a writer and de­cided to en­roll.”

Lit­tle, a Diné artist from Tuba City, Ari­zona, came to IAIA to par­tic­i­pate in the cre­ative writ­ing pro­gram but was also drawn to stu­dio arts and ended up do­ing a dou­ble ma­jor. He grad­u­ated in the spring of this year. “The cre­ative writ­ing pro­gram is a lit­tle more pro­gres­sive than stu­dio arts,” he said. “They re­ally stress in­di­vid­u­al­ity and in­de­pen­dence, you know? Write what you want to write.” Lit­tle found that the stu­dio arts de­part­ment was more re­stric­tive. He felt that it over­stressed the im­por­tance of IAIA’s well-known alumni, pain­ters such as Fritz Scholder and T.C. Can­non. “The ex­pe­ri­ence was neg­a­tive in the very be­gin­ning,” and he and his fel­low stu­dents wanted to chal­lenge the sta­tus quo. “About two years be­fore we grad­u­ated, we started to do work that was a lit­tle out­side the box for IAIA. We started to stick to­gether more, and we wanted to have a di­a­logue with the out­side world that was a lit­tle bit more ex­per­i­men­tal. I think IAIA started to re­ally sup­port us. We started com­ing out with a lot more works and started plan­ning shows. As in­struc­tors started to sup­port us, they en­cour­aged us to ex­plore more ex­per­i­men­tal sub­jects.”

Lit­tle was ac­cepted to an artist res­i­dency in Venice dur­ing the 2013 Bi­en­nale, in a pro­gram run by Marist Col­lege. “One of my friends and I went to Venice. The whole Venice ex­pe­ri­ence is over­whelm­ing: all the art that was there and all the tourists that were there. But it was a great ex­pe­ri­ence. IAIA gave us the tools to de­velop our own styles, our own selves.”

Lit­tle and his friends were in­ter­ested in street art such as graf­fiti, as well as works by mu­ral­ists. They looked to artists like Banksy for in­spi­ra­tion and spent a lot of time on on­line hubs that fos­tered cre­ative and rad­i­cal ideas, such as Hyper­al­ler­gic and Jux­tapoz. “The li­brary here started to sub­scribe to those mag­a­zines. We were be­com­ing aware of what was out there.”

IAIA has two mixed-me­dia pieces by Lit­tle, who was named a SITE Scholar ear­lier this year, in its col­lec­tion. SITE Santa Fe’s SITE Scholar Pro­gram rec­og­nizes the tal­ents of stu­dents at the col­lege level, of­fer­ing them in­creased ex­po­sure to art venues and net­work­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, as well as op­por­tu­ni­ties to work on projects.

Lit­tle is also en­gaged in edit­ing his po­ems in hopes of com­pil­ing a se­ries. “I’ve been go­ing over a lot of my po­ems and ask­ing my in­struc­tors to go over them too. They’ve been re­ally sup­port­ive of me.”

His next ma­jor art ven­ture be­gins on Jan. 4, 2016, when he par­tic­i­pates in the in­au­gu­ral class of the Ge­orge Kaiser Fam­ily Foun­da­tion’s Tulsa Artist Fel­low­ship. Many of the artists hail from top col­leges and in­sti­tu­tions. “They’re giv­ing my wife and I stu­dio space, and we’ll be liv­ing in an apart­ment. They’re also giv­ing us a pretty good stipend.” The res­i­dency lasts one year. “I’m re­search­ing con­nec­tions be­tween the Navajo Long Walk and the Trail of Tears,” he said. “I think I’ll do a se­ries based on that. I’m not sure if I’ll do fig­u­ra­tive work or some­thing more ab­stract. I’ll mainly be do­ing paint­ings, but also print­mak­ing too. I’ll prob­a­bly be do­ing a few mono­types.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.