iroquois is a denver-based street artist who cut his teeth on the streets of philadelphia. his moniker, though given for superficial reasons, was coincidentally very fitting. the artist has been researching the Iroquois people for many years, shares many of their beliefs, and has even practiced their ‘three sisters’ method of companion-style horticulture…
…consequently, there are many references to the Iroquois people in his work. the sticker to the left, which happens to be one of his first, is a good example of this. first of all, the mohawk on the skull represents the Mohawk nation, one of the first five tribes in the Iroquois Confederacy, as well as a shout out to his punk rock past. the logo of the Iroquois Confederacy consists of two connected rectangles connected to a pine tree of power, which connects to two more connected rectangles. the five elements of the logo represent the first five nations in the confederacy. the teeth on the skull are designed to represent the Iroquois logo, with some breaks thrown in to make it a little more personal.
as with many street artists, iroquois got his start in street art through stickers. by their nature, they are very accessible, the artist can take their time while drawing the sticker, there is an inherent semi-permanence to the medium, the artist can be as stealthy as he feels necessary for the situation when placing the sticker, and there is still enough real estate to express a message.
with or without a written message, there is an inherent message included in the symbolism in iroquois' pawn character. also, as is the case with the mohawk skull, the teeth of the pawn incorporate the Iroquois logo. additionally, the body, or the skin, of the pawn is red, a common representation of the color of the Native Americans' skin…
…this is an example of a more recent sticker drawn on large, paper-size sticker sheets. the quote is an english translation of ‘DE OMNIBUS DUBITANDUM’, the favorite quote by iroquois' favorite historical thinker, Karl Marx. late in his life, Marx had taken a fascination with the Iroquois people. he spent several years researching them, and during the process had even abandoned some of his own ‘Marxist’ beliefs. he was working on a book about the Iroquois people when he passed away. this quote is just as relevant today as it was 150 years ago.
another medium iroquois started exploring was the painting and installing of tiles. much like stickers, they are accessible, in fact you can make them out of just about anything. and they are stealthy, except that you have to carry a tube of liquid nails with you. plus, there is an added bonus of increased permanence.
this tile was made of discarded fabricated wood flooring that was rescued from the curb, and adhered to the base of an old phone booth in Center City. at last count, it has been riding at least a couple years…
…this collab is constructed using three separate tiles—two ceramic and one wood. the artists represented here are iroquois, DASH, WTF, and AVIZ.
collabs, short for collaborations, are pieces that include more than one artist.
the collab to the right is with legendary philly artist, DASH. DASH was one of the first street artists iroquois met in philly, and they became fast friends.
multiple pieces from multiple artists on one surface is known as a combo. this combo, slapped down the boardwalk from the ferris wheel on pier 57 in seattle, wa, is from members of WMD — iroquois, DASH, and WTF…
…this combo is in the form of several wood installations bolted to a sign post. the artists represented here are iroquois, DASH, kaysodilla, and BINES.
Boltup Wood Installations
speaking of boltups, these are a medium introduced to iroquois by DASH, who is known for his wood installations that span much of the city, whether it be north, south or west philly.
the installation to the right by iroquois, found on east colfax in denver, depicts an Iroquois chopper, which was used by american forces during the vietnam war, firing on two pawns.
another of the artist's influences is the writings of philosopher and author, John Zerzan. one of Zerzan's subjects of exploration is the concept of time. as the author points out, time is something that was invented by humans, and does not actually exist. here, iroquois attempts to express how we as a people are prisoners of time.
music is the source of much of iroquois' inspiration. the previous two pages included lyrics from T.S.O.L. and Leonard Cohen, respectively.
the boltup to the right, which excerpts the lyrics to ‘If’ by Pink Floyd hits a little close to home for the artist. as a preteen, iroquois began feeling symptoms of epilepsy, though was not diagnosed until his early twenties. historically, epilepsy patients were ‘treated’ using electroshock therapy. had iroquois grown up prior to the 1970s, there is a chance he may have had some wires put on his brain.
this installation is particularly meaningful to the artist. firstly, it is in a prime location on Broad street in Center City, and it gets a large amount of foot traffic passing by daily. secondly, the ‘OBEY’ sticker on the sign in the background was not there when the boltup was installed. further, Shepard Fairey was in town working on a mural a couple days prior to this photo being taken, and there were a ton of his stickers in the area. thus, the artist has concluded that Shepard Fairey has seen an iroquois piece.
after hearing Malcolm McDowell's character in the movie ‘If....’ ask this question, it has been repeating in the artist's head, ad nauseum.
Thanks for viewing!