The first solo institutional exhibition of Raven Halfmoon (b. 1991, Caddo Nation), Raven Halfmoon: Ancestors features six recent large-scale ceramic sculptures, including several completed this year while in residence at the Archie Bray Foundation for Ceramic Arts in Helena, Montana. Halfmoon’s monumental ceramic sculptures–some towering more than five-feet high–examine entanglements between past and present, sampling from an array of sources including graffiti, Caddo tattooing and mythology, and her own family history.
In Halfmoon’s work, multiple heads spring from the same clay base, and figures appear in formations of two, three, or more. Eschewing singular notions of being, Halfmoon’s objects are multifaceted and plural, nodding to histories carried forward by many generations of Caddo people, as well as pointing to our distinctly contemporary moment. Exploring vessel as form and the gendered implications of the medium, Halfmoon’s ceramics often feature women’s faces and examine legacies of matrilineal inheritance.
Starting with coil-rolling in the tradition of Caddo ceramics, Halfmoon embraces traditional as well as nontraditional modes of production. Through pushing and pulling, she manipulates hundreds of pounds of clay to unveil a looming, figurative forms with a gestural looseness. Halfmoon utilizes contrasting colors throughout her work and often returns to a vivid red, which evokes the red dirt of Oklahoma, her home state, but also to violence–used in campaigns to raise awareness about missing and murdered Native women, girls, and two-spirted people in the United States and Canada.
A member of the Caddo Nation, Halfmoon was born and raised in Oklahoma, and has always been strongly connected to the arts and her heritage. While her introduction to clay was at the age of thirteen, she became deeply interested in the medium while pursuing a double major in Cultural Anthropology and Ceramics/Painting at the University of Arkansas. Through her research and coursework in Native Studies, she was able to dive deeper into the material culture of her ancestry and engage directly with ancient objects from the Caddo Nation. Studying Caddoan culture and art making traditions deeply informed her own practice, and she also draws from monumental artworks from around the world, including the colossal Easter Island mo’ai and Olmec heads.
Art Omi is grateful to lenders to this exhibition: Forge Project, Kouri + Corrao Gallery, and Salon 94.
This exhibition is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.