Julie Buffalohead creates visual narratives told by animal characters who have personhood, agency, and individuality. Like all great storytellers, Buffalohead connects the mythical with the ordinary, the imaginary, and the real, and offers a space into which viewers can bring their own experiences. As we enter her worlds, she coaxes us to discover additional layers of meaning—social, historical, political, personal—using metaphor, wisdom, and wit. The rabbits and coyotes that feature prominently in Buffalohead’s work often play the part of trickster in Native storytelling. The artist uses the trickster in a variety of ways, representing all the different forms humanity can take: “[The trickster] introduces chaos into the world. . . but at the same time, he is a creator and creates worlds. He represents what it means to actually be a human being and to have all these feelings and emotions and contradiction within yourself.”This new body of work incorporates the coyote and crows, familiar subjects in work, as well as self-portraiture, to tackle weighty subjects such as forced incarceration, citizenship, historical trauma, and policies of cultural genocide.
An enrolled member of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma, Buffalohead lives and works in St. Paul, Minnesota.