Cannupa Hanska Luger is a New Mexico-based multidisciplinary artist who uses social collaboration in response to timely and site-specific issues. Raised on the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, he is an enrolled member of the Three Affiliated Tribes of Fort Berthold and is of Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara and Lakota descent. Luger produces multi-pronged projects that take many forms—through monumental installations that incorporate ceramics, video, sound, fiber, steel, new media, technology and repurposed materials, Luger interweaves performance and political action to communicate stories about 21st Century Indigeneity. This work provokes diverse audiences to engage with Indigenous peoples and values apart from the lens of colonial social structuring, and often presents a call to action to protect land from capitalist exploits. He combines critical cultural analysis with dedication and respect for the diverse materials, environments, and communities he engages.
Luger is a recipient of a 2021 United States Artists Fellowship Award for Craft and was named a Grist 50 Fixer for 2021, a list which includes emerging leaders in climate, sustainability, and equity who are creating change across the nation. He is a 2020 Creative Capital Fellow, a 2020 Smithsonian Artist Research Fellow, the recipient the 2020 A Blade Of Grass Artist Fellowship for Socially Engaged Art and the recipient of the Center For Crafts inaugural Craft Research Fund Artist Fellowship for 2020. He is the recipient of a 2019 Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grants, a 2019 Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Honoree and the recipient of the Museum of Arts and Design’s 2018 inaugural Burke Prize. Luger has exhibited internationally including venues such as the Gardiner Museum, Kunsthal KAdE, Washington Project for the Arts, Art Mûr, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, among others. He lectures, participates in residencies and large scale projects around the globe and his work is in many public collections. Luger holds a BFA in studio arts from the Institute of American Indian Arts.
Recent, notable works by Luger include Sweet Land (2020), a multi-perspectival and site-specific opera produced through The Industry and staged at the State Historical Park in downtown Los Angeles, for which he was co-director and costume designer; The MMIWQT Bead Project (2018), a social collaboration resulting in the monumental sculptural installation Every One, composed of over 4000 individual handmade clay beads created by hundreds of communities across the U.S. and Canada to re-humanize the data of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, queer and trans community members; and The Mirror Shield Project (2016), a social engagement work which invited the public to create mirrored shields for water protectors at Standing Rock and which has since been formatted and used in various resistance movements across the nation.
Namita Gupta Wiggers, Director of Critical and Historical Craft Studies at Warren Wilson College and Director and Co-Founder of the Critical Craft Forum states within her Burke Prize Juror statement that “Luger simultaneously addresses cultural loss and cultural sustenance, memory and interpretation, concrete form and craft as action. In a world wrought with conflict, he illuminates the strength and unity that come through craft’s capacity to engage communities, empower participation, and flourish in contexts within and outside of the museum setting.” Della Warrior, Director of The Museum of Indian Arts & Culture has stated that “Cannupa Hanska Luger is doing important and vital work, which combines cultural analysis with dedication and respect for human beings, diverse materials, environments and communities with which he engages.” and The Native Arts and Cultures Foundation notes "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."