John Feodorov was born in 1960 in Los Angeles, of mixed Native-American and Euro-American descent. Brought up both in the suburbs of Los Angeles and on a Navajo reservation in New Mexico, Feodorov early experienced the cultural differences between his dual heritages. He also observed the stereotypes present in American culture at large, where Native Americans were idealized as the living embodiment of spirituality by New Age consumerists. His work addresses this clichéd modern archetype through a humorous interjection of “sacred” items into recognizable consumer products.
His kitschy Totem Teddy series, for instance, added masks and totemic markings to stuffed toy bears accompanied by booklets declaring the bears to “meet the spiritual needs of consumers of all ages!” He has said: “A major theme in my work is the way Native Americans are still being portrayed, stereotyped, and studied in contemporary America. I’ve read that the Navajo Nation is the most-studied group of people on Earth. I don’t know whether to be proud or disgusted.”
Feodorov mixes this analytical critique with installations and sculptural objects that are often whimsical, fantastic, and mythical, creating a new and sometimes genuine sense of the sacred—a sacredness for modern, fractured times. Feodorov holds a BFA in drawing and painting from California State University at Long Beach. He is also a musician and headlines the band Skinwalkers. He lives in Seattle.