Museum of Contemporary Native Arts

Jeff Kahm: Vernacular

August 17 - December 31, 2012

Jeff Kahm Vernacular, 2012

Jeff Kahm Vernacular, 2012

In the solo exhibition VERNACULAR, artist Jeff Kahm explores geometric structures, such as stripes, as an effective vehicle for exploring compositional variations. Kahm culls examples from all cultures to show that these forms played a major role in the geometric styles and development of aesthetics of early history and it is precisely in their use as symbols that geometric configurations persist.  Various Indigenous cultures use abstract and geometric motifs not only for visual aesthetics (as a visual language) but to create meaning – meanings that symbolically represent the physical and social world.

In essence, Kahm’s work in VERNACULAR is a fusion of Indigenous motifs combined with codes of modernist practices. The construction of his paintings, including scale and application of color and texture, are intentional and contributes to the overall immediacy and presence of the work.

About the Artist: JEFFERY KAHMAKOATAYO, Plains Cree (a.k.a. Jeff Kahm), was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and was raised on the Little Pine First Nation in Saskatchewan by his maternal grandparents. Kahm began making art as a child and his talent for representational drawing and painting was evident from the very beginning earning him recognition early on from his community and surrounding area.  After completing high school, he attended the Institute of American Indian Arts (A.F.A. 1992) to study painting and photography.  He continued his studies at the Kansas City Art Institute (B.F.A. 1994) and then attended the University of Alberta (M.F.A. 1997). After graduate school, he returned to his community of Little Pine to serve in secondary education, where he worked with students from elementary to high school level. Several years later, Kahm returned to New Mexico to pursue his true calling – art. He became a permanent resident in 2003 and began to teach drawing and painting at the Institute of American Indian Arts.

Guest Essay by Sherry Farrell Racette