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Lectures in Art History: Shanna Ketchum-Heap of Birds

March 7 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm


“Indigenous Performance Politics: An Analysis of Works by Kent Monkman, Spiderwoman Theater Company, Rebecca Belmore and James Luna”

ART&, Ackland Art Museum

Because of space limitations, we request that attendees register in advance here:

By internationalizing the debate concerning Indigeneity and decolonial thought, as well as examining the basis of North American multiculturalism in the art world, Shanna Ketchum-Heap of Birds’ research foregrounds a complex understanding of gender, sexualities, and race in line with moving away from a heteropatriarchal understanding imposed by colonialist and anthropological thinking.  In this talk, she focuses on four artists/artists groups to offer new interpretations that question how we understand the colonial past by using images, artworks, and performances in strategic and interventionist ways that constitute acts of decolonization.  Following Linda Tuhiwai Smith’s Decolonizing Methodologies (1999), she contends that decolonial theories and processes are inherent to the struggles of Indigenous Peoples worldwide and intersect with one another on local, national, and global levels.  Therefore, going beyond previous frameworks, such as postmodern and postcolonial theories, implies a renegotiation of the readings and analyses of Native American/First Nations artists/artists’ groups, and their works, in ways that problematize Indigenous erasure in favor of Indigenous presence and futurity.

Shanna Ketchum-Heap of Birds is a citizen of the Diné/Navajo Nation.  In 2022, she completed her PhD at Middlesex University, London, focused on contemporary Native American/Indigenous visual artists and theater and performance studies.  Recent essays were published in Artforum International, Wired Italia, and Art Review magazine and in Tony Fisher and Eve Katsouraki (eds.), Beyond Failure: New Essays on the Cultural History of Failure in Theatre and Performance, Routledge, 2018.  See her website  Ketchum-Heap of Birds has lectured at Artists Space in NYC, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Nanyang University in Singapore, and Skype/Zoom lectures for the Barcelona Facultat De Geografia; Història Universitat De Barcelona; Museu D’art Contemporani De Barcelona (MACBA) and Shape: A Virtual Artist Residency sponsored by Vinegar Projects: An Artists-Run Space.  Ketchum-Heap of Birds also curated Suffer, Dance, Stand: Native Survival with Edgar Heap of Birds, Douglas Miles, and Warren Realrider in 2022 at OK #1 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Dr. Ketchum-Heap of Birds currently teaches at the University of Central Oklahoma and is board president of Spiderwoman Theater Company (the longest-running Native American feminist theater group in the USA).

This lecture is co-sponsored by the Ackland Art Museum as part of their current exhibition, Past Forward: Native American Art from Gilcrease Museum. The exhibition is open from February 16 to April 28, 2024.

A weeknight or daytime permit is now required after 5:00pm on weekdays. There is no permit required from 5:00pm Friday through 7:30am Monday. A $1.00 one-night pass is available in selected lots. More information can be found at UNC’s Weeknight Parking website.

Contact: Lyneise Williams,

Image: Kent Monkman, Dance to Miss Chief, 2010, video


March 7
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm


UNC-CH Art and Art History
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Ackland Art Museum
101 South Columbia Street
Chapel Hill, NC 27599 United States
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