University of North Dakota Faculty/Staff Newsletter

Visiting Artist James Luna to present ‘Native Stories’ this week

The Department of Art & Design is pleased to host award-winning Luiseño Indian artist James Luna. Mr. Luna’s performance art piece, titled Native Stories, premieres in North Dakota on Wednesday, April 24 at 7 p.m. at the Empire Arts Center.

In this performance work, Luna combines and refines some selected monologue and conceptual performance pieces from his vast repertoire with new stories. Luna’s intent is for the audience to become familiar with his Pooyukitchum (Luiseno) peoples, whose territory is located in the North County San Diego, Calif., area.

Luna will take you on a nostalgic visit to his grandparents'  kitchen where tribal knowledge and family values came alive during the early summer canning of fruits and vegetables. He will be inviting you to understand some very basic concepts of Indian ceremony and dance in “We Become Them.” The finale of the performance will be a ride to heaven and hell upon Luna’s War Pony. Given Luna’s mood you might want to prepare for an exhilarating roller coaster ride of emotions, thoughts, insightful stories, and visual moments.

Following the Native Stories, the audience is invited to engage in a question and answer session moderated by UND faculty. A public reception will also take place in the Arts Collections Gallery before and after the performance, (with the artist in attendance after the performance). The event is free and open to the public. The Empire Arts Center is located at 405 Demers Ave.

About the Artist
James Luna lives in two worlds. “I once felt torn as to who I was,” reports Luna, “but in maturity I have come to find the source of my power, and can move between places and not feel I have to choose.” Born in 1950, he earned a BFA degree from UCI. In a notable performance from the 1970s, he unpacked a bag filled with “Indian” objects and created new rituals. In Artifact Piece at the Museum of Man, in San Diego in 1987, he exhibited himself in a glass case. The National Museum of the American Indian nominated Luna to participate in the Venice Biennale in 2005 citing his emotionally compelling performances that dramatically expand the possibilities of Native American art.

In addition to his performance at the Empire Arts Center, Mr. Luna will give a public presentation entitled “Phantasmagoria: A Multimedia Lecture,” on Monday, April 22, at 1 p.m. in the Josephine Campbell Recital Hall at the Hughes Fine Arts Center. On Tuesday, April 23, 3:00 – 4:30 p.m., the UND American Indian Student Services will host a reception for Luna at the American Indian Center, 315 Princeton.

For more information, call 701.777.2257 or 777.2230.  Luna’s visit is sponsored through the generosity of The Myers Foundations; The Office of the Dean, College of Arts & Sciences; the Department of Art & Design; and UND American Indian Student Services.