Brad Kahlhamer uses his Native American heritage and post punk urban culture to paint large abstract symbols across canvas’ and create his own spiritual dolls. He is interested in culture and identity and through his art is building a world where he fits in. His artwork has an undertone of darkness meets the real world. A “third place” as Brad Kahlhamer calls it, where two opposing personal histories meet.
His paintings are filled with totems, poles, teepees, hawks and weaves combined with images from different cultures. It unveils an obsession for his ancestors and the modern life he is living. He is influenced by rock music and multiculturalism which is reflected in his paintings by the tone of colors and the display of the elements throughout the canvas. The dolls are a logical continuation of the artist’s train of thoughts.
Brad Kahlhamer has decorated the dolls with recycled and organic elements; feathers, bicycle-tire inner tubes, his own hair, discarded clothing, rope, and leather. Originally, the dolls are Katsina dolls, cottonwood carvings of Katsinam, spiritual beings in the Hopi religion. Respectful of the amalgam his pieces might have caused in terms of culture appropriation, the artist, always gave credit to the origin of his influences. The tribe he has created is carefully constructed. Blending geometric shapes, nails and wired legs to the essence of the Katsina dolls, the artist is empowering the individuals and blurring the lines between multiculturalism and abstract modernism.
This article was published on Beautiful Decay on August 18th 2015