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James Luna

Pauma Valley, California
1950 – 2018

About James Luna

Internationally renowned performance and installation artist James Luna (Puyukitchum/Luiseno and Mexican American decent) resided on the La Jolla Indian Reservation in North County San Diego, California. With over 40 years of exhibition and performance experience, Luna has given voice to Native American cultural issues, pursued innovative and versatile media within his disciplines, and charted waters for other artists to follow. His powerful works transform gallery spaces into battlefields, where the audience is confronted with the nature of cultural identity, the tensions generated by cultural isolation, and the dangers of cultural misinterpretations—all from an Indigenous perspective. Since 1975, Luna has had over 41 solo exhibitions, participated in 85 group exhibitions, and has performed internationally at venues that include the Museum of Modern Art (NYC), Whitney Museum of American Art, New Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Canada, and Museum of Contemporary Native Art, Santa Fe, NM. He has received numerous grants and awards throughout his career, including a Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant in 2010. Notably, in 2005 he was selected as the first Sponsored Artist of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian presented at the 2005 Venice Biennale’s 51st International Art Exhibition in Venice, Italy. In 2012, James was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities from the Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe, NM.

Program Participation

Joan Mitchell Center Residency, 2018

Painters & Sculptors Grant, 2010

Website / Social Links

My artworks often deal with difficult issues affecting American Indian communities, including socio-economic problems, substance abuse, and cultural conflict. I confront these issues head-on, often using humor and satire to counterbalance what I describe as the first step in recovery.”