Basin refugee redefining Native art

The Montana Artists Refuge has ceased to exist but its legacy lives on.
When Bently Spang pulls on the gold jumpsuit and white platform shoes to become “Indian of the Future,” it’s hard to understand his ancestors’ influence on the Northern Cheyenne artist. In 2012, when the Ash Creek Fire near Ashland burned his parents’ home and 20 other homes, Spang felt compelled to record the experience from the perspective of the trees, still standing but charred. He took rubbings from the charred bark by using large sheets of white paper and rubbing them into the tree. “I was interacting with the burned tree,” Spang said. “They were telling the story of the fire. When I looked at the first few, I said, ‘Oh my God, that looks like the fire.’ He titled the series ‘On Fire.’ ” [Jaci Webb, Billings Gazette]

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