Online Exhibition and Unveiling Ceremony
Friday, Oct 09, 2020, 3:00PM - 4:00PM
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The Leonard Peltier Statue

Opening Ceremony with members of Peltier’s Family: October 9, 2020; 3-3:30pm PST
San Francisco Art Institute, 800 Chestnut St., San Francisco, CA

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Rigo 23 brings his large-scale statue of Leonard Peltier, a Native activist incarcerated since 1977, to SFAI's rooftop terrace to gaze across the bay to Alcatraz, a pivotal place for the American Indian Movement. The 12-foot-high likeness of Peltier, a Native activist incarcerated since 1977, is based on a small hand painted self portrait that Peltier created in prison.

A live-streamed, online unveiling ceremony on October 9, 2020 from 3-3:30pm PDT will include remarks from Kathy D. Peltier (daughter), Chauncey Peltier (son), and Anne Begay (AIM activist and mother of Kathy). The public can participate through the SFAI website.

The statue has traveled around the United States and has, at times, met with an animosity all too familiar to Indigenous activists the world over. At the Katzen Art Center at the American University in Washington DC in 2016, it was censored and taken down after complaints from the president of the FBI Agents Association and subsequently disappeared for nearly a year until the artist was able to recover it. It was then exhibited at the Main Museum in downtown Los Angeles and greeted with an outpouring of community support.

The public can experience the statue online at SFAI’s website. The virtual exhibition includes drone footage of the statue in situ on SFAI’s rooftop terrace, photographs from the statue’s travels across the country, information on the importance of land acknowledgement, and more about Peltier and the artist.

The installation of the work at SFAI places the statue in dialogue with the Indigenous Peoples Day Sunrise Ceremonies that have taken place on Alcatraz annually October 12 and November 26 since 1975 to honor the Indigenous Peoples of America, promote their rights, and to commemorate the Native activists who occupied the island in protest in 1969. This year’s October 12th gathering will not take place as a public event. There will instead be a broadcast from 6-8am on KPFA. Details are TBD for November 26.

Rigo 23 is a Portuguese-born American artist and has exhibited his work internationally for over 20 years, placing murals, paintings, sculptures, and tile work in public situations where viewers are encouraged to examine their relationship to their community, their role as unwitting advocates of public policy, or their place on a planet occupied by many other living things. Rigo’s works live both as artworks and as thoughtful public interventions.

The Leonard Peltier Statue by Rigo 23 at the San Francisco Art Institute, 2020. Photo by Alex Peterson.