Travois featuring Cannupa Hanska Luger as part of First Fridays art series in KC

With a focus on North American Indigenous artists, Travois First Fridays jurors selected nine professionals to share their artwork as part of a visual art exhibition series at the Travois office in the Crossroads Art District, 310 W. 19th Terr. in Kansas City, MO. The next First Fridays event will be on Friday, June 1, with Cannupa Hanska Luger (Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lakota) and his exhibition: “Life Is Breathtaking.”

“”Every piece continues to take a lifetime to create, so that life itself is a material,” Luger explained. “And so, art should represent this moment in time, an interpretation of right now.”

“Supporting the arts is part of supporting a strong local economy,” said Travois President Phil Glynn. “Our arts economy creates jobs and is a catalyst for new business and development around our region. We are investing our space and our brand to continue this momentum. We are thrilled Cannupa Hanska Luger is showing his artwork on June 1 as our next featured Travois First Friday artist.

Born in North Dakota on the Standing Rock Reservation, multidisciplinary artist Cannupa Hanska Luger comes from Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lakota, Austrian, and Norwegian descent. His artist statement explains that his “work communicates stories of complex Indigenous identities coming up against 21st century challenges, including human alienation from and destruction of the land to which we all belong.” Luger “provokes diverse publics to engage with Indigenous peoples and values apart from the lens of colonial social structuring.”

Luger’s practice combines critical cultural analysis with dedication and respect for the diverse materials, environments and communities he engages. He is known for his ceramic innovations, interpreting the material with patience and experimentation. He also tells stories using fiber, steel, cut-paper, video, sound, performance, monumental sculpture, land art installation, and social collaboration. Luger holds a BFA in studio arts from the Institute of American Indian Arts. He was  a recipient of the 2016 Native Arts & Cultures Foundation National Artist Fellowship Award and has participated in artist residencies and institution lectures throughout the nation.

Luger’s work has been noted as “a modern look at ideas of colonization, adaptability and survival as major components to the development of culture” by Western Art Collector Magazine, and The Native Arts and Cultures Foundation noted that “Luger could well rise to be one of those artists whose caliber is unmatched and whose work will be studied by students to come, thus furthering the path for many more contemporary Native artists.” He maintains a studio practice in New Mexico. His work is collected and exhibited internationally. Learn more on his website, Facebook and Instagram.

For Travois First Fridays, Luger will exhibit various groupings of ceramic and mixed media sculptural works including “Life Is Breathtaking,” a series of ceramic buffalo skulls informing the exhibition’s title and which represent various stages of commodification and perceived value. For all of the various artwork series presented, Luger uses materials that are emblematic of human civilization such as clay, textiles and steel to communicate our current collective experience and challenge systemic conditions such as capitalism and extractive industry while claiming space for urgent and emergent Indigenous narratives.

On June 1 and following First Fridays dates listed on the Travois website, Travois will be open to the public from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Preregistration is available on the Travois website at Luger will give a brief artist talk to introduce his work at 6:30 p.m.

Appetizers will be provided, while supplies last, along with two drink tickets for guests (21 and older) who preregister prior to each event. Stockyards Brewing Company is a co-sponsor and will provide craft beer.

Photos are courtesy of Marco Pavan (top portrait) and the artist.


About Travois First Fridays

The Travois First Fridays jury of artists and Kansas City industry professionals selected the indigenous artists out of applicants who responded to a nationwide open call. Jurors for the series include: Gina Adams (Ojibwa-Lakota descent) contemporary hybrid artist and faculty at Naropa University; Bruce Hartman, executive director of the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art; Gaylord Torrence, senior curator of American Indian art at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art; Thomas Farris (Otoe-Missouria, Cherokee), manager of Exhibit C Gallery; Sherry Leedy, artist and Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art; Rachael Cozad, Rachael Cozad Fine Art and former director of Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art; Madison Group Fine Art Appraisals; Norman Akers (Osage Nation), artist and associate professor and director of graduate studies at the University of Kansas; and America Meredith (Cherokee Nation), artist and publishing editor of First American Art Magazine.

Travois First Fridays is a visual art exhibition series featuring North American indigenous artists at the Travois headquarters in the heart of metro Kansas City. Our mission is to support and promote American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian artists through juried exhibition. Our vision is to see Native artists more prominently featured and powerfully supported in metropolitan Kansas City. More information about the juried exhibition series can be found at


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