Christa Cassano, 2021. Courtesy the artist

“I chose to depict accurate versions of both T. C. and his art,” Christa Cassano explains, “because that was the best answer I found to the question of how to present someone whose work most people will be seeing for the first time. I didn’t want to get in the way of that experience.” A Philadelphia-based visual artist and storyteller, Cassano was nominated for an Eisner Award for adapting John Leguizamo’s HBO show Ghetto Klown into a graphic novel; her art also appears in a forthcoming documentary about the Fairbanks Four, Native American men who were wrongfully convicted of murder in 1997 and spent 18 years in prison. T. C. Cannon, the innovative Kiowa-Caddo artist who is the subject of this story—and whose painting Two Guns Arikara was recently acquired by MoMA—holds a great deal of personal significance for Cassano. “He broke out of the box we’ve been put in,” she says, “and set a precedent that cannot be broken.”

See the story panels below, or download it as a PDF.