“This is my heart as I
travel all over; my spirit,
my life and living.”
Flathead Indian Chief, Montana
Whilst living in the United States in the 1980s, during which time he visited The Navajo and Tohono O'odham Nations of Arizona as well as the lands of the Indigenous Tribes of California and New Mexico, Gordon Ellis-Brown became interested in the misrepresentation of Native American peoples in US pop-culture, particularly the damaging stereotypes disseminated by cinematic genres like the Western.
Ellis-Brown's Soul Shaker series responds to these preconceived notions of the historical American West, incorporating symbolism drawn from forms found in Native American petroglyphs. Constructed from collaged photographs, resin, paint and natural pigments, these bold graphic works celebrate the enduring materiality of some images whilst recognising the vulnerability and need to safeguard others. The compositions seek to make a connection beneath the surface and by deciphering codes he responds with a visual language to challenge the viewer.
In Soul Shaker, Ellis-Brown also raises questions about environmental sustainability, juxtaposing ancient and modern cultural signifiers to ask how we might reverse the devastating impacts of modernity and globalisation to preserve our precious natural resources.