The artworks of HOCK E AYE VI EDGAR HEAP OF BIRDS include multi-disciplinary forms of public art messages, large scale drawings, Neuf Series acrylic paintings, prints, works in glass and monumental porcelain enamel on steel outdoor sculpture.

Heap of Birds’ artistic creations and efforts as an advocate for indigenous communities worldwide are focused first upon social justice and then the personal freedom to live within the tribal circle as an expressive individual.

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Biographical Summary

The artist has studied at the University of Kansas, Lawrence (BFA, 1976), undertaken graduate studies at the Royal College of Art, London (1977) and attended the Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia (MFA, 1979).  He was named USA Ford Fellow in 2012 and Distinguished Alumni, University of Kansas, in 2014.  Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts and Letters degrees have been awarded by the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston (2008), Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Vancouver, Canada (2017), and California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, (2018).  In 2020, Heap of Birds was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences as a member of the Humanities & Arts class, with a specialty in Visual Arts.

Brief exhibition history

Heap of Birds has exhibited his works at The Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Cheyenne and Arapaho Nations Reservation, Oklahoma; The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia; Documenta, Kassal, Germany; Orchard Gallery, Derry, Northern Ireland; University Art Museum, Berkeley, California; Association for Visual Arts Museum, Cape Town, South Africa; SITE Santa Fe, New Mexico; Hong Kong Art Center, China; Bandung Institute of Technology, Indonesia; Grand Palais, Paris, France; Nanyang Technological University Art Gallery, Singapore; and the Venice Biennale, Italy.

Museum collections

The artists’ works are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; Pomona College Museum of Art, Claremont, CA; Denver Art Museum, CO; Museum of Contemporary Native American Art, Santa Fe, NM; Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; Harold Washington Library, Chicago, IL; the Belkin Gallery at the University of British Columbia, Canada; and Simon Fraser University Gallery, Vancouver, Canada. Recent collections include: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC; British Museum, London; Saint Louis Art Museum, MO; Anchorage Museum, AK; and the Library of Congress.

Teaching experience

Professor Heap of Birds has served as visiting lecturer in London, England; Western Samoa; Chiang Mai and Bangkok, Thailand; Johannesburg, South Africa; Barcelona, Spain; Belfast, Northern Ireland; Norrkoping, Sweden; Hararre, Zimbabwe; Verona, Italy; Adelaide, Australia; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Singapore; and Delhi and Vijayawada, India. He has taught at Yale University, Rhode Island School of Design and at the University of Oklahoma. 

He is retired from teaching at the University of Oklahoma after 30 years of service and is now Professor Emeritus in the Native American Studies Department. Professor Heap of Birds’ seminars explored contemporary Native American art issues within the visual arts, film, and museums on local, national, and international levels.

Grants, awards, and special projects

His public art and studio projects have received grants and awards from The National Endowment for the Arts (2012), the Andy Warhol Foundation (2004), Bonfil Stanton Foundation (2002), The Pew Charitable Trust (2000), AT&T (1999), Lila Wallace Foundation (1994), Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation (1989), and the Rockefeller Foundation (1987).

In June 2005, Heap of Birds completed the fifty-foot signature, outdoor sculpture titled Wheel. The circular porcelain enamel on steel work was commissioned by The Denver Art Museum and is inspired by the traditional Medicine Wheel of the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming.

Heap of Birds’ artwork was chosen by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian as their entry towards the competition for the United States Pavilion at the 52nd Venice Biennale. He represented the Smithsonian with a major collateral public art project and blown glass works in Venice, June 2007 titled Most Serene Republics.  This broad project was created in Italy as a memorial to over 20 Sioux warriors and children who died as part of Bill Cody’s Wild West Euro shows.

Press Release | News

Temple University and Tyler School of Art to honor Edgar Heap of Birds, MFA ‘79. The artist, educator and advocate for indigenous communities will lecture, show his work and be inducted into Temple’s Gallery of Success on October 17-18, 2018. Release--Temple U, Tyler School of Art to honor artist Edgar Heap of Birds '79.pdf

Cambridge, MA | April 23, 2020 – The American Academy of Arts & Sciences was founded in 1780 by John Adams, John Hancock, and others who believed the new republic should honor exceptionally accomplished individuals and engage them in advancing the public good.

Two hundred and forty years later, the Academy continues to dedicate itself to recognizing excellence and relying on expertise – both of which seem more important than ever.

Today, the Academy announced its newest members with the election of 276 artists, scholars, scientists, and leaders in the public, non-profit, and private sectors. 

“The members of the class of 2020 have excelled in laboratories and lecture halls, they have amazed on concert stages and in surgical suites, and they have led in board rooms and courtrooms,” said Academy President David W. Oxtoby. “With today’s election announcement, these new members are united by a place in history and by an opportunity to shape the future through the Academy’s work to advance the public good.”

New members of the Academy include
Singer, songwriter, and activist Joan C. Baez
Immunologist Yasmine Belkaid
University President Ana Mari Cauce
Bioethicist R. Alta Charo
Native American scholar and artist Edgar Heap of Birds
Technology and knowledge strategist Charles J. Henry
Experimental petrologist Marc M. Hirschmann 
Lawyer and former Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr.
Performer and professor E. Patrick Johnson
Anthropologist of human health Clark S. Larsen
Independent filmmaker Richard S. Linklater
Author Ann Patchett
Poet and playwright Claudia Rankine
CEO and electrical engineer Lisa T. Su

Read the full press release on the American Academy of Arts and Sciences website


Portrait by Ted West

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Short Curriculum Vitae

Professional Endeavors, Visits and Collecting

The artist/professor is available to create public art commissions, present research via keynote talks, participate in visiting artist assignments, critique student artwork, serve on panels and conduct hands on painting and drawing projects with children, youth, and elders. For pricing details relating to collecting particular artworks, please email.


Fort Supply, 2017, monoprints.

"Fort Supply," 2017, monoprints.


"Not Your Coyote Stories," 2018, monoprints.


"Surviving Active Shooter Custer," 48 monoprints, 90" x 176" each panel, 2018. Installation for SITElines.2018: Casa tomada, Santa Fe Biennial, SITE Santa Fe, August 2018.