Marcus Dunn, Going Home by Motorboat (St. Peters), 2017, Acrylic on canvas, 72 x 96 in.
SCAD presents “Faces of Assimilation,” a thesis exhibition by Marcus Dunn (M.F.A. painting). Dunn’s large-scale narrative paintings and intimate portraits explore cultural identity through the history of Native American boarding schools of the late 19th century. These schools sought to assimilate Native Americans into European-American society by stripping them of their cultural identity. The strictest example of this was created by U.S. Army officer Richard Henry Pratt, founder of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in 1879, who sought to “kill the Indian [in him] and save the man,” a quote motivating Dunn’s thesis work. The boarding schools, originally created by religious organizations and missionaries, enforced racist ideologies of the time, and Native American students were given new names, barred from speaking their language and forced to convert to Christianity, among other abuses.
Dunn finds archival imagery in the Library of Congress and other sources to explore the trials and day-to-day happenings of the students coerced into this new way of life. Positioning himself as onlooker to historic moments, Dunn transforms these black and white photographs with muted tones and layers of translucent brushstrokes. It is through these works that the artist reconciles his personal struggles to maintain his cultural identity as a member of the Skaroreh Katenuaka Nation of Tuscarora Indians.
Marcus Dunn earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in studio art from the Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico. He has exhibited his work at the Museum of Contemporary Native Art in Santa Fe and Gutstein Gallery in Savannah.
Opening reception: Friday April 7, 2017, 6–8 p.m.
Gallery hours: Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The reception and exhibition are free and open to the public.
For more information about the artist: marcusbdunn.com