Published on August 10, 2012 by Amy
James Luna (born 1950) is a Pooyukitchum (Luiseño) and Mexican-American performance artist and multimedia installation artist, living on the La Jolla Indian Reservation in California.
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Luna was born in Orange, California in 1950 and grew up in Orange County. He earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the University of California, Irvine and a Master of Science degree in counseling at San Diego State University. He moved to the La Jolla Indian Reservation in 1975 and lives there today.
Initially Luna began his art career as a painter, but he branched out into performances and installation, which he has explored for over three decades. His own body has been a major component in his work. For instance, in the 1987 Artifact Piece at the San Diego Museum of Man, Luna lay still in a display case filled with sand and artifacts, such as Luna’s favorite music and books, as wall as legal papers and labels describing his scars.
In 2005 the National Museum of the American Indian sponsored him to participate in the Venice Biennale. The piece he created, Emendatio, included three installations, Spinning Woman, Apparitions: Past and Present, and The Chapel for Pablo Tac, as well a personal performance in Venice, Renewal dedicated to Pablo Tac (1822–1841), a Luiseño Indian author and scholar, who went to study in Rome, where he died.
Luna has taught art at the University of California, San Diego. Currently, he is a full-time academic counselor at Palomar College in San Marcos, California.
During his career, Luna has received innumerable awards, including Best Live Short Performance at the American Indian Film Festival and a Bessie Award from the Dance Theater Workshop of New York. In 2007 he was awarded the Eiteljorg Fellowship for Native American Fine Art.