|photo by Stevei Houkamau|
Erin Genia's creative practice occurs within an indigenizing and decolonizing framework, with two primary strands. One strand involves creating pieces that examine perceptions of reality through materiality, in a creative investigation of the tensions between beauty, power and oppression. The second strand involves contributing to the evolution and preservation of Dakota cultural art forms by learning and perpetuating traditional techniques and designs.
Erin places value on experimentation, attempts at mastery, lessons from failure, purity of expression, orchestrating disparate aspects and objects to engage the viewer in a visual communication. A background in community organizing informs content. As she connect to the shared struggle of humanity with community-based work, she seek solutions through the creative process that extend beyond the material.
As member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota Oyate, and an Odawa descendant, Erin addresses questions that test the boundaries of contemporary art from an Indigenous person’s perspective. She is a product of U.S. assimilation policies that stripped her forebears of their land and culture, forcing them to accept American ways. The American Indian Religious Freedom Act was ratified the year she was born, making her a part of the first generation of Native Americans who are able to freely practice and preserve living cultural traditions. This is a sacred responsibility, and it often places Erin at odds with dominant structures and attitudes. Indigenous art is not well-represented in mainstream art, but this is changing as more Native artists, like Erin, are merging a cultural imperative with a response to contemporary concerns.
She is currently enrolled at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, pursuing a Master of Science in Art, Culture and Technology, within the School of Architecture and Planning. For more information click here.
Erin is a 2017 First Peoples Fund fellow, find out more information about her work under the fellowship here and here.