Reflective Presence: The Art of Jesse Littlebird & Jonathan Loretto

COMING SOON! Showing in the Artists Circle Gallery March 9, through June 23, 2024

Opening Reception March 15, 2024

5-6pm Member’s Hour (Become a member here)
6pm Artists’ Talk
6-8pm Public Reception

This exhibition focuses on the artwork of Jesse Littlebird (Laguna/Kewa Pueblos) and Jonathan Loretto (Walatowa/Koyiti Pueblos) and their processes of traversing home to find new views and understandings of Pueblo places and people. An artist-led project in the IPCC Artists Circle Gallery, the exhibition grounds itself in visual narratives that transport viewers through different layers of consciousness through site-specific bodies of work created by the artists. The exhibition offers a firm footing in the present moment, with the present moment being different for everyone but connected between each person entering the gallery. In exchange, Littlebird and Loretto’s artworks give viewers the opportunity to reflect while in the present.

Littlebird uses abstraction and connections to ancestral sites to tell painted, layered stories of the land on fabric and in mural-inscribed elements. Loretto creates bobblehead clay storytellers, charcoal drawing, and black & white photography to shift viewers into reminiscent and reflective spaces of land-based narratives. Through clay, photography, drawing, and painting, these artists channel their work with energy that, in effect, shifts viewers from one state of presence to another. Through these shifts, onlookers pause to consider making the leap from their present state of mind to inventive places of consciousness created by the artists in their two and three-dimensional expressions.

Rooted in storytelling, Littlebird and Loretto’s artworks offer layered perspectives that transport viewers into new landscapes of personas, memories, and places of being. These artists locate their work in symbols, movement, narratives, and depth rooted in Pueblo understandings—all to give viewers a nuanced experience of traveling through artistic portals. An overarching theme of Pueblo stories embedded in the land nurtures the artists’ relationships to home and provides an immersive visual journey for visitors.

About the artists:

Jesse Littlebird (Laguna/Kewa Pueblos) is a native New Mexico artist, painter, writer, and film director with a passion for telling stories that foster cultural experience, dialogue, and community engagement to a diverse audience. Storytelling through the medium of painting and film is a vital part of life for Littlebird with his Pueblo heritage deeply rooted in oral tradition culture and growing up in a creative and innovative household. Littlebird’s bold and provocative paintings emerged on the New Mexico art scene in 2018. His dedicated work ethic and prolific painting style catapulted him onto a national level with institutions and collectors discovering his visual storytelling painted on large format surfaces.

Littlebird says this about his art, “The paintings serve as storytellers, capturing narratives that can be discovered by those who truly listen and engage with the artwork. My work is inspired by teachings, prophecies, and stories that are commonplace among my people. It presents the viewer with a unification of Southwestern landscapes, Indigenous Cosmologies, and their historicization. My work remixes various elements from Western and Indigenous thought and histories, provoking critical reflection and serving as a testament to the enduring spirit of Indigenous cultural realities.” Littlebird is based in Albuquerque. He was an Andy Warhol Foundation grant recipient and a Sundance Institute Full Circle Fellow. His paintings are part of the Tia Collection and the City of Albuquerque public art in addition to many private collections. He has held recent exhibitions at Eaton DC, Lapis Gallery, Revolt Gallery, Secret Gallery, and Fusion Theatre, and his work can be seen at the Albuquerque International Sunport airport.

Jonathan Loretto was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico and is a descendent of the Walatowa (Jemez) and Kotyiti (Cochiti) villages. He recently graduated from the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Fall 2021. His degree is in Studio Arts with an emphasis in sculpture. He also had the opportunity to learn photography which he is excited to pursue as a new medium. Loretto has never shielded away from challenges, especially when it comes to learning new art concepts. This journey continues to evolve as well as his artwork. He is always willing to share his ideas without hesitation knowing this is what he strives for—passing on knowledge through storytelling in artistic practices.

Loretto was a Rollin and Mary Ella King Fellow at the School for Advanced Research in 2012 and a Goodman Fellow at the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian in 2005. His mother is Snowflake Flower (Stephanie Rhoades), of Cochiti Pueblo, and aunt is Ada Cordero Suina (Cochiti), both renown clay storyteller artists. Loretto carries on this legacy now working in clay for more than thirty years, with his bobblehead storytellers as his personalized art form. Creating in many mediums, Loretto is also a jewelry artist, having worked with Nancy Brown Jewelers and Ralph Lauren. His work has been shown at the Roxanne Swentzell Tower Gallery, Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center (Maui, HI), and the Vermont Studio Center.

Artwork images available for press use

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