Native Pop: Bunky Echo-Hawk and Steven Paul Judd Subvert Star Wars

Olena McLaughlin


Multiple Native American artists work in the genre of pop art as it holds an anticapitalist position and lends itself well to reaching a wider audience in a language familiar to many. This paper explores works of two contemporary Indigenous artists, Bunky Echo-Hawk (Pawnee/Yakama) and Steven Paul Judd (Kiowa/Choctaw), who are expanding the genre of Native pop art. In their works If Yoda Was an Indian and Hopi Princess Leia, they appropriate iconic images of Star Wars as a means to subvert popular culture, re-imagine what it means to be Indigenous in the 21st century, and create affirmative visualization of futurity for their respective communities. Through humorous and clever mashups of Star Wars characters and Indigenous visual languages, the artists explore the complex relationship between Indigenous peoples and film industry, defy stereotypical expectations of the mainstream audience about Native art, and create images that represent their personal experience with contemporaneity. By merging American pop culture with Native experiences, Echo-Hawk and Judd encourage multiple audiences to reconsider Native American history and position Indigenous peoples as active participants in the present. 


Native American art; pop art; Star Wars

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Copyright (c) 2017 Olena McLaughlin