Weatherspoon Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Museum purchase with funds from the Weatherspoon Art Museum Acquisition Endowment for the Dillard Collection, 2021.3

When I work with paper it’s like the paper is an object in itself, and what becomes important to me is less [about] making space and more about the characters I’m drawing . . . I almost feel like there’s a relationship between the paper and the figures . . . and I don’t need to fill it with a lot of information.

Native American trickster characters such as the coyote appear frequently in Julie Buffalohead’s enigmatic paintings. Both good and evil, tricksters operate not in the black and white realms of right or wrong, but in the grays and contradictions between. Buffalohead notes their ability to represent the chaos that is part of being human, and she embraces the ways their stories invite multiple interpretations.

That notion of possibility also resonates in the open space that Buffalohead creates around her characters in The Song of the Ravens. Conceptually, her leaving so much of the composition blank forces us as viewers to imagine the connections among the figures. Formally, she finds the handmade paper on which she works too beautiful to cover with more marks than are absolutely essential.