Title: It is a Good Day to Die
Material: oil on canvas
There are not enough Indians in the world to defeat the Seventh Cavalry. — George Armstrong Custer
When I was a yout, I did two weeks of church mission work on a Mesquakie Indian Reservation in Iowa. We were constantly visited with stickers and graffiti posted by Native Americans our own age reading, “Custer died for your sins.” After I figured out what it meant, my eyes, ears and mind were opened. I had gone to Iowa to ‘convert the native’ but the ‘natives’ converted me. Sometimes the magic works and sometimes it wasn’t.
“Culuster’s Last Stand” is an example of my changing a context to borrow one myth to leverage another in order to present a third. I borrowed the subject, pose and symbolism from Andrea Mantegna’s “San Sebastian” in type-casting George Armstrong Custer as a poster boy for American arrogance. It is our last stand here, amid the ruins of a dysfunctional civilization.
Custer’s mismatched uniform comments on the Civil War surplus he and other Indian fighters were expected to use against better horsemen who frequently even had superior fire-arms. The Sioux had their sources as well as their horses.
The word “Culuster” in the title is a Latin word meaning “asshole”.