Fontbonne Fine Arts presents exhibition showcasing history, persecution of Native Americans

CLAYTON, Mo. – The Fine Arts Department at Fontbonne University celebrated the opening of its new exhibition Sitting Bull S**t: The Quiet History and Persecution of the Native American by St. Louis artist Craig Norton.

On Friday, members of the Fine Arts Department joined Norton in exhibition opening and reception, free to the public. Norton was available as guests viewed the works of art on display for questions and discussions.

Norton’s typical featured art consists of pen drawings, paints and mixed media collages. However, most of what is showcased at the Gallery includes a lot of work with spray paint.

Norton said that using spray paint not only allowed him to work with a new medium, but also gave him the change to change his style.

Craig Norton with work from Sitting Bulls**t: The Quiet History and Persecution of the Native American, showcased at Fontbonne University. (DANIELLE MAE FRANKLIN/CLAYTON TIMES)
“As an artist, I feel, it’s important to explore different mediums throughout your career,” Norton said. “It’s easy to get stuck in one medium or one kind of work…I got ahold of a spray paint bottle and it changed my style for this series.”

Norton shared that he has always wanted to do a series about Native Americans. Being part Native American himself and his grandfather growing up on a reservation known as the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe, it was a topic he has wanted to explore. Most of his work deals with topics that are dealing with the community and the theme just “organically happens.”

Norton’s goal with Sitting Bulls**t: The Quiet History and Persecution of the Native American was to not necessarily “ruffle feathers,” but rather address the history and stereotypes that are not necessarily being spoken about. He said he works to share what he believes to be the truth.

With the spray paint, Norton said he is using the idea of erasing the wrong ideas and notions and rewriting the sensitive topics with humor.

“The real challenge is to try to touch on something that’s real and do it in a way that is sensitive, but yet addresses truth,” Norton said. “And I try to add humor to my pieces.”

Showcasing titles such as ‘We Gave You Corn, You Gave Us Smallpox,’ ‘Don’t Worry About us Indians. We All Own Casinos and are Stinking Rich!’ and ‘The Indians Call These Totem Poles; I Call Them Firewood!’ Norton shares the atrocities in a way that views can find humor but also discuss the hardships that occurred.

Fontbonne University Fine Art Gallery showcasing Craig Norton: Sitting Bulls**t. (DANIELLE MAE FRANKLIN/CLAYTON TIMES)
Fontbonne University Fine Art Gallery showcasing Craig Norton: Sitting Bulls**t. (DANIELLE MAE FRANKLIN/CLAYTON TIMES)

“By showing at colleges, it’s kind of, in my opinion, a grassroots angle that’s a little more open to exploring,” Norton said. “College level is more about getting people talking and learning. It’s a great way to learn and get students, who are the up and coming workplace, to trickle that down to the next generation.”

Sitting Bull S**t: The Quiet History and Persecution of the Native American will be featured at the university’s Gallery of Art, Fine Arts Building (6800 Wydown Blvd., Clayton, Mo. 63105) until March 15, 2019. The public can view Norton’s work for free during the Gallery’s hours of M-F, 9:00 am-4:00 pm and Saturday, 12:00 pm-4:00 pm.

Craig Norton discusses his work from Sitting Bulls**t: The Quiet History and Persecution of the Native American, showcased at Fontbonne University. (DANIELLE MAE FRANKLIN/CLAYTON TIMES)
“These are the kind of things we really look for as a university and in the Gallery,” Anthony Borchardt, assistant arts professor and director of the Gallery of Art at Fontbonne University, said. “Things like this and social injustices. We really looked forward to this show.”

Borchardt talked about Norton’s style of work and how there is always some kind of statement being delivered behind each piece.

“We’re happy to have it,” he said. “It’s a pretty interesting show and each piece really takes some time to take a look at and understand and see all the different mixed media but also the storyline behind it.”

Borchardt also noted that on Thursday, March 14th, Essentially Fries food truck will be stationed at the Gallery from 3:00 pm-6:00 pm. Those who view Sitting Bull S**t: The Quiet History and Persecution of the Native American will be offered a discount on fries.

He said the Gallery is hoping to bring in a lot of young people to the show with the food truck, aligning with their interests.

To keep up to date with upcoming exhibits at Fontbonne, follow the Gallery’s Facebook and Instagram pages.