With Cloudy Boy series, Kahlhamer examines a “third place” of identity
To create his new series, Cloudy Boy w/ Clouds, Brad Kahlhamer explored a familiar theme—his position in the “third place” of being born to Native parents, adopted by a white family, and feeling removed from each—as well as less familiar ones: his history as a punk musician in New York in the ’80s and ’90s. The new series of prints, created with master printer Cole Rogers, is on view through December 3 at the Highpoint Center for Printmaking in Minneapolis.
Kahlhamer creates characters like Cloudy Boy, a sometimes-autobiographical figure, and another character called Ugh. Kahlhamer grew up in a small, predominantly white community in Dodge County, Wisconsin. In high school, he was hanging out with friends when they saw a man walking down main street.
He recalls his friends saying, “Ugh is in town.” Kahlhamer didn’t understand at first.
“So they’re like, ‘This is your brother,’ you know, this being an all-white community,” Kahlhamer said. “I had this idea that I couldn’t approach him. I was completely fascinated to want to connect with him, you know, you’re connecting to your people, but I also was afraid in a way. I didn’t know where I stood with Native-ness as a teenager.”
The series arises out of a process Kahlhamer calls “yondering” (also the name of a 2011 work on paper in the collection of the Minneapolis Institute of Art): wandering and pondering, a sketchbook in hand, as he explores the unique third place of his experiences.