Obscura Gallery is excited to present the photographic work of San Carlos Apache-Akimel O’odham artist Douglas Miles whose artistic work is rooted in Apache history and deeply engaged with the world of contemporary pop culture. Douglas Miles (b. 1963) is a multi-faceted artist working as a designer, filmmaker, muralist and photographer who blends Native history with political resistance. His work encourages reflection on how art can foster community-building and promote pride and well-being, especially among young Native people. The photographs in this online exhibition include portraits of Miles’ community of family and friends taken in San Carlos Arizona, as well as the places Miles has traveled with his Apache Skateboards team in Utah, Navajo Nation, Los Angeles, Phoenix AZ and other locations. The exhibition also includes images from the The Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Phoenix, Arizona in June and July of 2020.
DOUGLAS MILES, Bonnie Skates, 2020, 13 x 19", archival pigment ink print, edition of 15.
With themes that cover tradition as well as modernity, a major focus in Douglas Miles’ artistic work is on Apache warriors, dancers and musicians. Through these images, he hopes to instill a sense of pride and empowerment in his subjects. Miles sometimes adds the names of important chiefs and warriors to his work in the style of street art, be it hand-cut stencils, murals or graffiti.
DOUGLAS MILES, Bex Paints in the Night, 2019-2020, 13 x 19", edition of 15.
The warrior is an important image in Apache history and their greatness is at times forgotten, even amongst the Apache. I hope to reignite the strength, endurance, leadership and tenacity of the warriors of the past thru art, education and political awareness in all communities. –
DOUGLAS MILES, Faceless Kimono 2019-2020, 13 x 19”, archival pigment ink print, edition of 15
DOUGLAS MILES, Breeze Graffiti, 2019-2020, 13 x 19”, archival pigment ink print, edition of 15
Miles developed and founded Apache Skateboards in 2002, a program designed to support the athleticism of skateboarding that emulates the strength, endurance and tenacity of warriors. Since its original inception, the program has expanded to include the arts, education, political awareness and empowerment by connecting mainstream skateboard culture with contemporary Native life. Many of the skateboard designs depict Apache warriors and the youth of the San Carlos Apache reservation on skateboard decks.
The skate team is comprised of women and men so you’ll see them [in the photos] as well.. I’m not an action sports photographer, mainly portraits. My skate team is probably the most innovative group I’ve ever worked with. They’ve used skateboarding as a way to build community and created excitement in Native Youth across Indian Country. – Douglas Miles
DOUGLAS MILES, Off the Reservation 2019-2020, 13 x 19”, archival pigment ink print, edition of 15.
Of his photography Miles says, I’m in love with the people , the faces, the times and the spirit they convey in each face.… I marry social media platforms and graphics with my photos and other borrowed imagery adding and layering the meanings and messages I want. To use social media the way it’s intended you have to see the world around you as a quick communication platform . Maybe I reclaimed some space but really just not sure if that’s what I’m really doing. I don’t feel I’m reclaiming anything at times . I’m really making my own space in my own image in my own time for my own people. It’s needed. Lack or representation plagues Native people. These photos punch up into those systemic barriers that keep us out of a larger cultural conversation. It’s about time.
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VIEW THE ENTIRE ONLINE EXHIBITION HERE.