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KEVIN BROWN American (Pamunkey), born 1954
William & Mary Indians, 2016
Oil on canvas and mixed media
Commissioned by the Muscarelle Museum of Art
Acquired with funds from the Board of Visitors
Muscarelle Museum of Art Endowment
Inspired by late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century photography, Kevin Brown’s William & Mary Indians combines the images of former Pamunkey leaders alongside primary documents, maps and objects from the colonial era.
Playing off William & Mary‘s former sports moniker as “Indians” and the “Tribe,” Brown recalls the long, but shrouded and complicated history of the university with Native peoples. Layering a mix of images; a roster of Pamunkey students; a map of Pamunkey Indian Land; the Charter to educate the “Western Indians;” an early identification badge for Pamunkey travelling to the colonial capital; rents from William & Mary land in King William County, culled from Pamunkey territory; and taxed Indian furs and skins to support William & Mary, Brown focuses his artistic narrative on the Pamunkey experience with the university.
Viewed in context William & Mary Indians is less about the Tribe, motorcycles or stereotypes, and more about the ways in which the history of Virginia and the university is entwined with those of Native peoples, and the uncomfortable dialectic between university pride and the colonial encounter.