KU’s Spencer Museum reinstalls Native American art installation after vandalism, invites public to celebration event
photo by: Ryan Waggoner
The Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas has announced that “Native Hosts” by Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds is now reinstalled in front of the museum after it was vandalized two months ago.
The installation is KU’s Common Work of Art. It consists of five aluminum signs in front of the museum on Mississippi Street. The signs name Native tribes who historically or currently inhabit the region now called Kansas. On each sign, the colonial name is printed backward while the name of the land’s original occupants is printed forward.
KU police said that on Sept. 4 shortly after 11 p.m. two individuals damaged four pieces of the exhibit. Later, another part of the exhibit went missing but was recovered.
The museum is inviting the public to an event Thursday celebrating the artwork. The event, from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the museum, will be led by Native American faculty and students from KU and Haskell Indian Nations University.
The City of Lawrence condemned the vandalism as an act of racism at a meeting last week. Mayor Brad Finkeldei said city commissioners understood “that destroying Professor Heap of Birds’ artwork is hurtful not just to the artist but to so many others who have suffered at the hands of ignorance and arrogance for so many generations. While some might see this only as vandalism, we understand that the impact of this selfish and hurtful act goes much deeper and reflects old wounds for Indigenous people and many others who continue to be targeted by systemic racism in our society.”