Opening July 9 at ART123 Gallery, INDIGITAL is an exploration of Indigenous-inspired and Indigenous-made digital NFT art forms. Organized by and featuring Diné artist Christian Bigwater, the show also includes guest artists Karl Jim, Talisa Reeve, and SAOE. 

NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are essentially electronic markets that allow digital artworks to be bought, sold, and traded as one-of-a-kind assets. INDIGITAL will show NFT artworks through projections, monitor displays, interactive QR codes, and physical representations. 

“I’m excited about curating this show to highlight Indigenous talent that is beginning to formulate a presence within the NFT space. The range of artistic talent here is expressed in many forms—video, static, virtual—but the one thing they have in common is they are all representative of each artist’s background and Indigenous experiences.”

INDIGITAL is totally cutting edge—not just for Gallup but in general,” says gallupARTS Executive Director Rose Eason. “What Christian is doing is really interesting, exciting, and almost mind-bending. It’s not just that he and the other artists are creating new forms of art with NFTs. It’s not just that they are Indigenizing the digital art space. It’s also that, with this show, Christian is translating the digital realm into a traditional gallery context and intersecting virtual reality with reality. The title really sums it up—INDIGITAL is about putting the Indigenous in digital and investigating what it means for artwork to be made ‘in digital.’”

For Christian, who has been making digital art for several years, NFTs are game-changing: “There are so many digital works of art trapped on phones, tablets and computers with no real way to authenticate them until now—through the blockchain,” he says. 

Christian will be presenting three original collections: 

    • “Ghost Trendy,” a collection of 100 unique, hand-drawn “Ghost Trendy” 1-of-1 edition NFT avatars living in dystopia on Polygon blockchain waiting for their owners to someday claim them. Ghost Trendy avatars are generated by randomly combining diverse Indigenous designs and elements within a standard frame.
    • “MMIW,” a collection of ten hand-drawn 1-of-1 edition NFT portraits minted on the Ethereum blockchain. The portraits are sequential, forming a progression in which the faces become less and less human. The purpose of this collection is to raise awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Initial proceeds from this collection will be donated to
    • “365 Days Worth,” a collection of 365 hand drawn 1-of-1 edition digital images created over a span of three years. This collection speaks to the unlimited experimentation enabled by digital art, as it explores a range of artistic genres and themes. These pieces are currently being minted on the Ethereum blockchain. 

About the Guest Artists: 

    • Karl Jim is a Diné graphic designer, creative director, and artist originally from Crownpoint, New Mexico, now living in Flagstaff, Arizona. In 1999, Karl launched the creative concept “21Native” (i.e., 21st Century Native) as a graphic and web design firm. After 10 years as a freelance designer, he was hired by the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise in 2009 and is currently serving as its Director of Brand Management. “As an artist I often create in the moment and my subjects range from traditional Navajo culture, everyday life, dreams of the past, the modern Navajo and with a blended concepts of symbolism and abstraction,” says Karl. 
    • Talisa Reeve is a visual artist living in Venice, CA who seeks to bring her ancestors into the present through her work, creating a future-modern reality that is celebratory and that also raises questions about commodification, identity, disenfranchisement, class, and power.
    • SAOE is a Quechan/Jicarilla Apache stencil artist and digital creator bridging traditional Native American art with street art. 

A Virtual Sneak Peek of INDIGITAL will be live-streamed on the gallupARTS Facebook and Instagram pages on Saturday, July 9 at 11:45am. 

The in-person Show Opening will be 7 – 9pm on Saturday, July 9 (during the downtown Gallup ArtsCrawl). 

A Virtual Artist Talk with all four participating artists will be live-streamed on Monday, July 11 at 6pm to the gallupARTS Facebook page.