Although he is based in Wisconsin, Ho-Chunk nation artist Tom Jones is well-known to Kansas City gallery goers from his regular showings at Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art for the better part of two decades. Jones’ work is also part of the Oppenheimer Collection at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, one of the many museums nationwide that owns his work.
In November/December Sherry Leedy will show new works by Jones in a one-person show titled “Remnants.” The exhibit, pairing photographs of vivid carpet designs from Indian casinos with etchings on glass of historical images, continues the artist’s ongoing investigation of the way American Indians have been represented through history and the way those images have influenced perception and identity.
“The etchings themselves become a ‘remnant —,’” writer Stacy J. Platt observed in “Exposure Magazine,” “a literal trace of the racist, America-first, genocidal and xenophobic past-that-still-exists-in-the-present regarding the legacy of our post-colonial thinking.”
Whereas many of the images Jones translates to etched glass were made by white artists, in the triptych “He Touched Him Good,” the artist appropriates a ca. 1900 ledger drawing showing a white man shooting an Indian who does not have a weapon.
“The mere act of an Indian touching his enemy in warfare is considered a high honor in many tribes,” Jones explained. “(Here), while the white man is shooting at the Indian, the unarmed Indian is going to physically touch the white man.” Made by a Hunkpapa Lakota artist, the ledger drawing is “one of only a few representations in the series done by native hands,” Jones said.
The ledger drawing is part of the collection of the Speed Art Museum in Kentucky; other images that Jones etched in glass come from the internet and old newspapers, he said.
The photos of casino carpets flanking his etched images allude to “the sovereignty of tribes to have these casinos,” Jones said. Casino revenues contribute to native communities’ economic independence and self-determination, but regulation of the industry has long been a source of contention between Indians and the U.S. government. In 2017 Indian casinos generated revenues of $32.4 billion to run the infrastructure of their governments and social systems.
All of the works in “Remnants” were made in an edition of ten.
“Tom Jones: Remnants” opens with a reception from 7 to 9 p.m. Nov. 2 and continues through Jan. 19 at Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art, 2004 Baltimore Ave. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday – Saturday and by appointment. (The gallery will be closed for the holidays from Nov. 22 to 24 and from Dec. 24 to Jan. 5.) For more information, 816.221-2626 or www.sherryleedy.com.