My first solo exhibition, Okoŋwaŋžidaŋ is at the Urbano Project. The exhibition opening was on October 24th. My latest work on view, include paintings, sculptures, textiles, a video projection of Earthling and an installation of sound vessels. This solo show is one aspect of my artist residency at Urbano, working with youth artists.
Anpa O Wicahnpi: Dakota Pride Banner
Seattle Center, 2017 by Erin Genia
My new article, "Unseen Dimensions of Public Space: Disrupting Colonial Narratives," is published in the Boston Art Review Issue 04 this fall. It discusses the meanings of public space in the United States settler colonial society, and how the concept largely excludes Indigenous people and the ways public land was obtained.
The article references "Monuments in Perspective," the workshop I gave this past spring for "Experiments in Pedagogy," a series of curricular events marking the 150th anniversary of the MIT School of Architecture and Planning. The workshop consisted of regional site visits to places of cultural and historic significance to the Wampanoag, Nipmuc, Massachusett and Ponkapoag people. Through the wisdom and words of Jonathan James-Perry (Aquinnah Wampanoag) and Jean-Luc Pierite (Tunica-Biloxi), students and community members learned about the history and character of the land, as well as critical approaches for respecting it in their work as artists, designers, urban planners and architects.
The article also discusses the work of two artists working in the public sphere whom I admire a great deal, Lillian Pitt (Warm Springs/ Wasco) and Toma Villa (Yakama). The Confluence Project, a series of public art sites and interventions along the Columbia river, led by Maya Lin, features their compelling art pieces and promotes the work and voices of Indigenous people of the area.
My work, Anpa O Wicahnpi/ Morningstar - Dakota Pride Banner, which celebrated diversity and the urban Indian experience at Seattle Center from 2017-2018, also makes an appearance in the article. I am proud to be one of six writers that the public arts organization Now +There supported for this publication.
This year, I have fulfilled the requirements of my Masters degree program in Art, Culture and Technology, at the MIT School of Architecture and Planning. One of the requirements was to produce a thesis. Here is my thesis abstract:
The powers of creativity and symbolism that art draws upon have been
used in the public realm to uplift and also to oppress. Within this
context, art, from Indigenous perspectives, can positively influence the
collective imaginations and wokiksuye (memory) of society. Indigenous
intervention into the practice of public art can powerfully contribute
to the process of decolonization and Indigenization in America.
Considerations embedded in notions of public space within a settler
colonial society, such as the attempted erasure of Indigenous peoples
and histories, and the supplanting of Western doctrines over Indigenous
cultures, influence the production and reception of this work. Erin
Genia, a Dakota artist, analyzes the politics of memory in public space
by scrutinizing monuments celebrating the American colonial project and
describes the impacts of Western imperialism on Indigenous arts and
cultures. By presenting her own artwork, as well as that of prominent
Indigenous artists working in the public sphere, she shows how
understandings of place and relationship underpin Dakota/Indigenous
methods, and argues that public art is an arena where an evolution of
thought and practice in approaches to the world can come to fruition.
I created the image above for the 2019 SA+P Thesis show. You can see information about this thesis, and other students theses here.
You can read more about my graduate work, including my thesis, here.
"The imminent and expected destruction of the life cycle of world
ecology can be prevented by a radical shift in outlook from our present
naive conception of this world as a testing ground of abstract morality
to a more mature view of the universe as a comprehensive matrix of life
- Vine Deloria, Jr. God is Red, 1973
Earthling performance at MIT building 7, Art, Culture and Technology Program, photo by Chelsea Polk, June 2019
Earthling is a character, a person, a being, at once playful and unnerving, who uses sound to claim space.
Earthling with thundertube, 2019
Earthling is a reminder, that underneath people's closely held ideas, underneath the systems that capitalize upon us and colonize us, our adopted ideologies, we are earth-based beings.
We are not just of the earth – we are the earth.
acrylic and architectural model vegetation on canvas
Human understanding has come far away from the reality that we are not separate from the earth. How would our responsibilities to ourselves, each other and our world change if this reality was the basis of our collective thought and action?
Earthling in Joy Parade through Boston, by artist Nick Cave, photo courtesy Now + There, 2019
Looking back through history, all cultures of the world stem from earth-based ways of knowing. For the past couple centuries, earth-based ways have been targeted for erasure and indeed nearly erased by dominant societal forces, in order to prop up false hierarchies. Part of the decolonization process involves understanding this historical perspective, and working to shed those ideologies that have been harmful to us and the world around us.
Earthling drawing waves, at Futurity Island: Amphibian Pedagogies and Submberged Perspectives, MIT Walker Memorial, photo by Juan Necochea, 2019
Earthling drawing waves using pipestone pigment, at Futurity Island sound sculpture photo by Juan Necochea, 2019
Can we shift our orientation to creating economies, scientific practices, technology, social structures and culture that is based upon this fundamental aspect of life?
Coalescing the materiality of sound with the life force of earthen forms
Sound Vessels is a series of ceramic sculptures that transmit sounds. Using sound as a material, this work explores how it can interact with objects, through the medium of earth, by experimenting with the interactions between various types of sounds and forms.
As installed at the February School, a month-long series of pedagogical experiments self-organized by ACT students at MIT, in the Wiesner Student Gallery
Listening, recording and crafting sound compositions has led to to the question: what kind of object could the composition emanate from? Earthen clay is a versatile and forgiving medium, which has allowed me to test the transmission of different kinds of sounds in many ways.
Crystalline Sound Vessel
Sounds that are clear, sounds with synth, with texture, the voice, each has a different interaction with vessels' shapes, surfaces, thicknesses and other hand-made aspects.
Sound Vessels, performed in December, 2018
In Dakota philosophy, all things exist within a continuum of life, and the foundational concept of mitakuye oyasin, that we are all related, extends not only to other people, but also to animals, plants minerals, electricity, air objects, and everything in existence. This piece illustrates this philosophy and concept by linking the material qualities sound to form.
The pieces come alive in a new way as they conduct sound vibrations. They begin to shake and move and speak.
Sound testing two types of ceramic vessels
With the sound vessels I've created so far, I have experimented with my heartbeat, a hand drum, a rattle, fire, a train, bubbling liquid, singing, explosions, insects chirping, wind instruments and spoken words in both Dakota and English languages.
Cicada Chirper Sound Vessel
The ceramic vessels are built to hold and transmit sound, rather than the usual use of clay vessels as containers for solids or liquids. Each vessel plays individual sound compositions of different timed lengths, as they play together, a randomized orchestra of objects is created.
Interacting with the array of Sound Vessels in the ACT Cube at MIT, December 2018
Sound Vessels is supported by a grant from the Council for the Arts at MIT, appearing at the Wiesner Gallery at the Stratton Student Center at MIT during the month of February, 2019.
Side by side: AI-generated design and handmade necklace
This week, I had the opportunity to work with my colleague, Pinar Yanardag, who specializes in collaborating with artificial intelligence to create a variety of things. Among her most recent work, she has input thousands of pieces of data into algorithms to allow the AI to generate hundreds of ideas for pizza recipes, dresses, perfumes and now, jewelry. With this data, and the help of practitioners such as cooks, dressmakers, etc., Pinar narrows down the data, and uses it as a template for creating new things.
Pinar sent me hundreds of images which I culled in order to determine what would be the most feasible to make. After we decided on several striking pieces, she purchased beads, baubles and findings at the Grand Bazaar, in her home city of Istanbul. I combined them to create a few examples of necklaces, pins and earrings, in a collaboration with artificial intelligence.
AI-designed necklace Pinar will wear to a conference, along with an AI-designed dress
Using the imagery created by AI as inspiration for forms, many interpretations become possible.
Fish bauble, created from an AI design, using beads, including a nazar, or evil eye pendant, in the shape of a fish