Episode 25. Interview with Douglas Miles

"Native people are often looked at as anthropology or ethnography, but we're not artifacts we're real people." - Douglas Miles

Douglas Miles: Artist, activist and creator of Apache Skateboards. Photo Credit: Eriberto Oriol

Douglas Miles: Artist, activist and creator of Apache Skateboards. Photo Credit: Eriberto Oriol

Artist and founder of Apache Skateboards Douglas Miles is San Carlos Apache, Akimel O'Odham, and White Mountain Apache from the San Carlos Apache reservation. As an indigenous visionary, Douglas Miles is one of those rare and important figures who continues to reside one step ahead of the main stream Native American art world. Miles tells his experiences through an array of mediums including graphic design, photography, spray paint, stencil, fashion, found objects, community organization and whatever else he can use to speak truth about his experience. The imagery of Douglas Miles invites the viewer into an iconic conversation of progression regarding indigenous existence. Miles creates a new set of rules and then breaks them down, never compromising for the status quo, and always inviting a necessary representation to the current understanding of what it means to be Native American. His career is a poem written to all who have come before him and to all who will come after. 

Here is the conversation with Douglas Miles:

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More about the Artist:

"Douglas Miles is an Akimel O’odham /Apache artist living on the San Carlos reservation in eastern Arizona. Melding a graphic-cum-graffiti sensibility, Miles’s timely cultural aesthetic captures the spontaneity of urbanity, much like the esoteric works of Jean Michel Basquiat, whose New York City poetic street tags under his pseudonym (SAMO) and Haitian-inspired iconography broke new ground in the contemporary art scene of the 1980s. Miles’s work can be compared also to the profundity of England’s Bansky, whose recent strategically-placed international tagging interventions heighten our collective contemporary consciousness through satirical, political and social commentaries on war, poverty, violence and modernity. Miles completes this trinity of street-inspired artists by confronting us with his own savvy, hard-ass and hard-hitting cultural stance that is not only unconventional—challenging, unsettling and raw in its positioning—but also seductive and visually luring through his reuse and re-contextualization of Native American subject matter and historical imagery. Miles’s approach codifies Native American presences in mainstream culture by creating an aesthetic sensibility through skateboard culture, thus strengthening and instilling cultural pride and tribal consciousness. Apache Skateboards is a moniker created by Miles to further his artistic investigations and expand his collective philosophy of outreach by providing the impetus for collaborations with other young and talented creators interested in skateboard culture and integrated as Apache Skateboard Native Agents Team. Miles’s collaboration has expanded his outreach into a multiplicity of genres including film, still photography, public murals, digital works, skate-park design, shoes, clothing and conference and speaking engagements." -Written by Barry Ace for The Museum of Contemporary Native Art

Follow the work of Douglas Miles and Apache Skateboards

Photo: Christopher Boats OShana

Photo: Christopher Boats OShana