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James Luna 1950-2018: In Remembrance
Celebrated artist James Luna, of Mexican and Native American descent, was known for his thought-provoking and perceptive performance art and mixed media installations. His artworks and performances fearlessly confronted stereotypes about Native American identity, characterized by their cutting wit and humor. He passed away suddenly March 4, 2018 while an artist-in-residence at the Joan Mitchell Foundation in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Of Luiseño, Puyukitchum, Ipai and Mexican heritage, Luna resided on the La Jolla Indian Reservation near San Diego, California. In addition to his work as an artist, Luna was an academic counselor at Palomar College near his home. His artworks drew from personal experience, and the issues affecting his community. He challenged viewers to address their prejudices and the romanticization and trivialization of Native American identity in contemporary American society. He referred to his method of using of satire and humor as "the first step in recovery."
The State Art Collection features four of James Luna’s artworks, acquired in partnership with the University of Washington. Three of his works are part of a collection of contemporary Native American artists, curated by artist John Feodorov for the Gallagher Law Library. His piece titled 'Half Indian/Half Mexican' is part of a collection of nine diverse artists, installed in Kane Hall, whose works explore identity. The Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA) is proud to honor James Luna's life, work, and continued legacy.