SANTA FE, N.M. — Like the Brothers Grimm, Julie Buffalohead gathers woodland creatures into deftly woven tableaux of truth.
The Minneapolis-based Ponca artist deploys a cast of characters to act out social problems and histories reflecting contemporary culture. “Julie Buffalohead: The Truth About Stories” is a collection of her works on paper opening on Saturday at Santa Fe’s Museum of Contemporary Native Arts.
“There’s a lot of shape-shifting,” curator Candice Hopkins said. “Humans take the form of animals and animals take the shape of humans. In the majority of (Native) creation stories, humans are not the main actors.”
Buffalohead’s dreamscapes of coyotes, rabbits, deer and turtles express her mixed feelings about being biracial, the abuse of power and racial injustice. Darker undertones lurk beneath her playful drawings. A prairie dog acts out a scene with cut-out shadow puppets next to a dozing deer. The deer joins the masquerade with a tree branch tied to its head in place of antlers.