It is an amazing phenomenon, the rise and celebration of Native Pop Art. Across Turtle Island, exhibits like “Native Pop!”, featuring the artwork of Steven Paul Judd, Steven Grounds, Dallin Maybee, and Frank Buffalo Hyde, have been widely celebrated for showcasing the diversity of Contemporary Native American Art.
Jicarilla Apache artist, Rod Velarde is among the growing number of Native artists challenging the notion that Native American Art is limited only to traditional arts, designs, historical representations and the silhouettes of buffalo against vividly painted sunsets.
“I do what I call native pop art today, taking iconic pop images and incorporate native art to it”, says Rod Velarde. “Patrick Nagel did many figures with negative spaces; he was one on my influences. H.R. Geiger, another. Andy Warhol, also.“
At the first Indigenous Comic Con held in November of 2016, Velarde’s art was the center of much attention. Wearing his iconic Bluebird Flour tie and smile that never left his face, Rod gladly talked with those enthralled by his intricately designed artwork. His Stormtrooper covered in traditional Apache designs was and continues to be a showstopper wherever he goes.
“If you happened to see an artist with a blue bird tie and a Stormtrooper, it is I”, says Velarde.
Rod describes his art as a reflection of his travels and the people he’s met.
“It is about my heritage and those around me as my teachers. My grandfather came from the pueblo people, to him I honor in my designs. I was raised in the country with Anasazi ruins all around; picking up shards with designs became my influence. “
Currently, Rod’s art can be seen at various art shows and Comic Cons across the U.S. In November, he will once again be showcasing his artwork at the 2nd Indigenous Comic Con being held in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the Isleta Resort & Casino.