Piikani artist Terran Last Gun had been waiting weeks for the news. Just as a successful solo show wrapped at Plaza-adjacent Hecho Gallery last month, however, he learned his application to this year’s Indian Market from the Southwest Association for American Indian Arts had finally been accepted.
Last Gun was already slated to appear at the Native Treasures market event over Memorial Day weekend, but he had worried he might miss out on the limited spaces at the country’s largest gathering of Indigenous artists (a recent Facebook post from SWAIA indicates a high volume of applications led to delayed notifications for accepted artists). He says he “pushed it” with his application.
Perhaps he need not have worried, after all—this will be Last Gun’s third time showing at Indian Market, which has lured thousands of collectors, fans, artists and institutional advocates to the city each year for a century. Last year, he won numerous accolades, including Best of Division A and First Place in the Ledger Art and Serigraph category.
As he moves into the new market season, the artist’s practice has been evolving at an accelerated rate with shows in his adopted home of Santa Fe, representation from Albuquerque’s Gallery Hózhó, a current exhibit at the Missoula Art Museum in Montana and other opportunities on the horizon.
His career seems to be particularly flourishing—but none of this was supposed to happen at all.
“It’s funny, because people have always asked me, y’know, ‘When did you think you were an artist? When did you feel like an artist?’” Last Gun tells SFR. “But my father was an artist when I was growing up—or is an artist, I should say, and I honestly didn’t want to pursue that growing up.”
Last Gun, 34, was supposed to do or be so many other things before he found this path. For a time, he thought he’d be a traditional Piikani dancer, or perhaps a museum administrator or archivist. But when he arrived at the Institute of American Indian Arts in 2011 after earning an associate’s degree in environmental science at Blackfeet Community College in his hometown of Browning, Montana, discovering the nuts and bolts of visual arts prompted a change in his outlook.