Chapel for Pablo Tac

Chapel for Pablo Tac, 2005. James Luna (Puyukitchum [Luiseño]), b. 1950. Mixed media. Audio composition courtesy of Jorge Arévalo Mateus. Video composition by Eto Otitgbe. Museum purchase, 2010 (26/7735).

Created for the 2005 Venice Biennale, this work honors Pablo Tac (Luiseño, 1822–41). At the age of 12, Tac traveled to Rome to study for the Catholic priesthood. He never returned home, but before his death seven years later, he penned a handbook of Luiseño grammar, began a dictionary of the language, and wrote an account of the “missionization” of his people. Luna re-creates an 18th-century California mission church and draws parallels between elements of Catholicism and the Native religions the missions intended to destroy.

Celebrated for his installation and performance work, James Luna (Puyukitchum [Luiseño], b. 1950) creates art that confronts and challenges stereotypes about Native Americans, museums, art, and life through the use of irony, humor, grief, and a strong sense of storytelling. Luna was selected by NMAI to exhibit at the 2005 Venice Biennale. He has created and been the subject of critically acclaimed films. He has exhibited and performed at the Whitney Museum of American Art; the American Indian Community House, New York; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; and the San Diego Museum of Man, among other venues.

“Take a Picture with a Real Indian”
Monday, October 11, 2010

In observance of Columbus Day, performance artist James Luna (Puyukitchum [Luiseño]) invited the public to “Take a Picture with a Real Indian” at the Christopher Columbus statue at Union Station.

A video teaser is available.

Vantage Point: The Contemporary Native Art Collection

The National Museum of the American Indian
NMAI on the National Mall | Washington, DC