Walking through the space, an intimate and cool respite from the busyness of Bowery just outside, I couldn’t help but think about the impact of color, both in painting and in cultural conversations. Koop, a Winnipeg, Canada native, explains her relationship to cultural color early on: as a young girl, her family lived in close proximity to the Indigenous peoples of Winnipeg, and embraced one Native woman in particular as family. This lifelong bond, coupled with Koop’s innate feeling that “Canada didn’t belong to us,” has manifested into the paintings of Standing Withstanding, which Koop describes as a series of work “concerned with how we treat Indigenous peoples and how deeply we need to listen to what they say about the environment.” Koop’s openness is refreshing, and feels very much in the tradition of oral history and shared knowledge Indigenous cultures promote.
Standing Withstanding is decidedly not Canada-centric, however. Allusions to the Standing Rock Reservation and the Dakota Access Pipeline that threatens it are evident; ultimately, environmental issues like oil transportation, climate change, and the extinction of species like the albino gorilla are the breadcrumbs that carry us through this show made up of a visual vocabulary which is “not a quick read.”