Having spent most of his twenties coming in and out of San Francisco, appropriation artist Cheyenne Randall (@Indiangiver) recently visited for a week to work on a few projects. GRØSS got to catch his install of a piece in the Mission at the soon to be opening Fox Sister and instigated his rants about trying to be active, Instagram and not talking about the uncomfortable shit.
Randall is well known for his shopped tattoo series — taking pictures of celebrities and giving them some traditional ink. Lately, he has been getting into more motion and 3-D art as well as getting involved in music and a film titled “Warrior Women” with Christina King and Dr. Elizabeth Castles.
His work isn't supposed to make you feel warm and comfortable — It makes you double take, pushes your buttons and dances on that thin line of right and wrong. Being Native American and an artist, he feels like it is his responsibility, now that he is gaining recognition, to become more active especially in today’s world of social media and he isn’t afraid of speaking his mind about it, “You kind of have this responsibility to decide like am I going to be this dude just posting pics of me ballin' with a blunt hanging out of my mouth or am I actually going to get involved... The Native community is kind of dead, people don’t even know we exist." He blames a lot of this lack of knowledge on the education system and how Native American history is barely taught in schools. But it isn’t just problems with his heritage — it’s everyone, all races, and how there is this obliviousness that is all too common. “I do everything I can to stand up for every race. You get some these fucking hippies man, that live in this fantasy land where everything is nice. Nobody wants to talk about the uncomfortable shit and in the meantime, all this crazy shit happens because people aren’t willing to talk about it.”
Randall’s frustrated with this new general public status quo of everything being alright. “People just don’t really care because their fucking phones aren’t loading fast enough. My friends are more excited about the new iPhone or whatever coming out than they would be if they found out something like stem cell research can be used to cure cancer. There’s just not enough public interest.”
Like most artists today, Randall has to rely heavily on Instagram to stay current —
uploading posts at certain times, using keywords and hashtags, trying to keep coming up at the top of people’s feeds. These things are necessary to be able to keep doing what he is doing but it definitely infuriates him.
“It makes me feel kind of sick and narcissistic sometimes because I’m not like that. I’m not a big hashtagger or really fuck with any of that shit really because I think it’s all teenage bullshit. It feels so fabricated, and in a lot of ways, it is. It’s like this neurotic bullshit that you are feeding to this part of society. There’s like algorithms and shit to it that you have to follow which just feeds that bullshit narrative.”
One aspect of this social-media-crazed public that freaks Randall out is how people think they know someone based on just their accounts and what they post. To be friends with them, to feel like they know a person based on their posts and how easy it is to appear a certain way through social media. “It’s weird sometimes, I think people meet me sometimes and are disappointed because I’m not who they think I am based on my Instagram. They think I am this well put together Instagram page. It’s annoying but at the same time, it’s a game that I somehow put myself in it. But I make it fun and still post a bunch of goofy shit. You can’t take it too seriously, but it’s hard not to.”
Randall will be part of the Life is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas Sept. 22-24, doing a show called Crime on Canvas with a number of other artists. One of the other artists is Randall’s hero, Ron English. “Ron was one of the first guys to really attack a wall and I have always looked up to him. Just to have my name near his is an honor.”
Peep his Instagram here: @indiangiver