Bob Haozous is the son of an artist.
In fact, Haozous is the son of a very famous artist, the late Allan Houser, one of the most renowned Modernist sculptors of the 20th century.
But while Haozous regularly draws attention to his father’s work, he does so in order to further its legacy – not to promote his own talents. An acclaimed artist in his own right, he does not believe in riding another’s coattails to fame. He even unabashedly changed his last name from his father’s anglicized “Houser” to its traditional Apache version, “Haozous,” in order to put focus on what he values most: his indigenous heritage.
“I am not compelled to seek attention, acceptance, or respect to justify my work . . . I do not place prestige over cultural responsibility and commitment,” says Haozous.
Bob Haozous will speak about his artistic philosophy for the Simon Ortiz and Labriola Center Lecture on Indigenous Land, Culture, and Community. His talk “Redefining indigenous perspectives through art and dialogue” will take place at 7 p.m., March 15 at the Heard Museum, 2301 N. Central Avenue in downtown Phoenix.
Haozous will discuss “[Indian] identity and false identity; how we [Natives] use Western ideas as crutches; the Free Apache Concept; Native voices; and Native art as a reflection of Western art concepts.”
Earlier in the day, the ASU Art Museum will also host Haozous for an informal, brown-bag presentation on the Tempe campus from 12 to 1 p.m. The public is invited to attend.
Arizona State University Regents’ Professor of English Simon Ortiz, who founded and coordinates the lecture series, commented on Haozous’s upcoming visit: “We are especially fortunate to host Bob Haozous, a major American painter and sculptor of Chiracahua Apache heritage. Not only are his artworks stunning and visionary, but he articulates important truths about indigenous American arts – how they are subverted and as a result ignored because they are perceived as threats to the established order of commerce marketing ‘Indian art.’”
Haozous is world-famous for his often-humorous and politically-charged creations. He works in a range of media, including drawing, painting, print-making, and jewelry, and is best-known for his sculptures. Here, too, he uses in a variety of materials – stone, wood, and steel – and the pieces are often large-scale public works inspired by his Apache heritage. Other common influences on Haozous’s art are the environment and racism.
Haozous explains what he’d like to see in “authentic” Native American art: “I want people to understand that we are not standing on this earth – it’s holding us up. I also want to see the problems of Indian people – diet, alcohol, drugs, diabetes, suicide, violence, and ignorance, among other things – come through Indian people as a healing element of their art, because those things are such a prevalent part of our lives.”
Adriene Jenick, professor and director of the School of Art in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at ASU, provides context: “[Haozous’s] work employs symbol and material to their full effect and manages to create art that is full of hope and grace even as it reveals the socio-economic and political realities of the indigenous subject.”
With support from the Heard Museum, ASU sponsors of the transdisciplinary lecture series include units in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (American Indian Policy Institute; American Indian Studies Program; Department of English; Women and Gender Studies in the School of Social Transformation; and history faculty from the School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies), the Herberger Institute (ASU Art Museum and School of Art), Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law (Indian Legal Program), and ASU Libraries (Labriola National American Indian Data Center).
Written by Deanna Stover and Kristen LaRue
Kristen LaRue, Kristen.LaRue@asu.edu
Department of English
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences