Pleased Indigenous Peoples’ Day! This text launches a brand new interview sequence. It’s known as Indigenous &. A typical thread will tie them collectively. All of the interviewees establish as Indigenous. They usually all dwell in North America proper now. The ampersand within the title serves as a gap. It invitations dialogue of components of life that intersect, interweave, and work together with Indigeneity. These are seen within the artist’s studio follow. They can be seen within the work they produce. That “&” can also be a option to enter specificity in nation, gender, sexuality, and different elements of being human.
This sequence was impressed by talks I had with maker Tania Larsson. I beforehand interviewed her for Garland.[i] Listening to her specific the variety in method, aesthetic, and materials that’s grouped underneath the time period Indigenous was thrilling. It additionally made me notice how a lot I nonetheless must study. I noticed there are issues I could by no means perceive however nonetheless have to be aware of and respect.
The title of this sequence comes from an curiosity in intersectionality. The time period was coined by UCLA and Columbia legislation professor Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989. It has seen a revival in feminist scholarship. The time period’s authentic intention referenced black ladies and the legislation in the USA. It has since taken on a extra expansive which means. It has developed right into a extra broadly used time period to unpack many ideas and happenings. It reveals that overlapping elements and demographics intersect when many various circumstances, primarily in social justice. It’s inconceivable to separate them from one another.
These interviews will solely contact on the broad variety of labor made by Indigenous jewelers. I hope they are going to provide beginning factors. I would like others to look and discover extra from a spot of solidarity. Interviewees have supplied beneficial assets and different makers to have a look at. This makes the interviews an entry level. You may dive deeper and fall into rabbit holes.
You’ll discover some questions repeat between interviews. That is on function. It reveals simply a few of the attainable various solutions. Different questions dive deeper in specificity to sure works and concepts of every maker.
This sequence acts as a instrument for considering when approaching indigenous work. It’s not an authority. Every interview will make clear and in addition complexify how, who, and what we take into consideration once we see the phrases Indigenous and jewel(er/y) collectively.
I met Brian Fleetwood at a spherical desk dialogue for Metalsmith journal throughout a SNAG convention. We approached one another after the dialogue. We realized we had related pursuits in writing practices and equitable illustration within the discourses of decoration and jewellery. On this interview, Fleetwood touches on accessibility, each in regard to offering data and expertise to his college students but in addition to wearers and viewers of labor who might not have the cash to buy massive works. He additionally opens a dialog on what it means to be a maker who’s neurodivergent. I hope this dialogue will proceed repeatedly to additional complexify and enrich how we see makers navigate their particular person practices.
matt lambert: As this can be a sequence with the intention of celebrating indigenous artists, what a part of your background would you wish to share?
Brian Fleetwood: I’m a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma (Mvskoke, in our personal language). I’ve obtained blended European heritage as properly, however I don’t actually know the place these ancestors got here from.
The place does your curiosity in natural kinds come from?
Brian Fleetwood: Loads of locations, and I’m certain that my aesthetic is knowledgeable by issues I’m not even consciously conscious of. I feel there are most likely three primary sources for this curiosity: a private fascination with and background in biology and organic constructions; Mvskoke teachings in regards to the relationships between dwelling issues and artwork practices that summary from organic kinds (particularly our floral beadwork); and a follow that includes processes I’ve little management over as soon as they’ve been set in movement.
As an autistic particular person, certainly one of my “particular pursuits” way back to I can keep in mind has been biology/ecology/evolution, and the nuance and complexity of the relationships that each one dwelling issues share. I’ve obtained a factor for dinosaurs. I really like that organisms which appear so alien and inscrutable to folks—fungi, crops, single-celled life, any variety of invertebrate animals—are actually relations to us. This runs parallel with conventional Mvskoke creation tales and cosmologies that emphasize the relationships between us and our nonhuman relations. On this vein, a variety of the elements of my work are knowledgeable in a technique or one other by Southeast summary floral beadwork designs. In the end, I additionally need to make work that behaves, at the least partially, in methods which can be much like dwelling issues, and work in a collaborative manner with materials and course of whereby I set a course of in movement after which hand over management to permit that course of to come back to its personal pure conclusion.
And this aesthetic is meant to serve a function. I need to make work that interacts with the human physique to subtly urge folks to rethink their relationships with the world round them and to acknowledge that most of the arduous traces that we draw between issues, and particularly between ourselves and the world round us, are cultural constructs fairly than real distinctions that exist as a basic property of the universe.
Are there any particular processes or aesthetics that you simply use which can be particular to your tribal affiliation?
Brian Fleetwood: I do make some work with processes and supplies primarily based in our historic cultural follow, like a little bit of shellwork. I additionally do some work with culturally particular kinds comparable to gorgets (a sort of pectoral/neck decoration). Nevertheless, I’m personally hesitant and cautious about making culturally particular work that exists exterior of that cultural context, so these particular kinds and processes solely not often present up in my public work. However, like I mentioned earlier than, a lot of the natural aesthetic I exploit is knowledgeable at the least partially by Southeast floral beadwork.
The place/how did you study these processes?
Brian Fleetwood: I’m fortunate to have had some unimaginable mentors from my individuals who have had the persistence and kindness to share their data with me, specifically Sandy Wilson and Kenneth Johnson. There are additionally assets made obtainable by way of the Muscogee Nation authorities to assist the continuation and revitalization of culturally primarily based making practices, and I’m presently utilizing a few of these assets to broaden my data and expertise with supplies and kinds that I don’t have a lot expertise with.
Different mentors who influenced the way in which I interact with supplies and processes are Mark Herndon, Chris Ramsay, and Susie Ganch.
I additionally love working collaboratively and I train. Studying the way to relate to work and course of in new methods is sort of inevitable when participating in these sorts of issues.
You now train as an assistant professor in studio artwork on the Institute of American Indian Arts. What makes your classroom at IAIA distinctive in comparison with establishments that don’t give attention to Indigenous folks?
Brian Fleetwood: IAIA is exclusive as an establishment on the entire. All of our college students are required to take Indigenous Research lessons as part of coursework, and even our math, science, and different gen-ed coursework facilities on Indigenous views and authors. However I feel at first the most important distinction is our college students. That is in fact wild hypothesis, however I don’t know if there’s an artwork faculty on the planet that has the variety of our pupil physique. In any given semester our college students hail from dozens of Native communities, and presently I’ve college students from Indigenous nations that span from above the Arctic Circle to the Andes in Peru. Every of our college students brings their very own particular cultural data and expertise to the classroom, and this extremely dynamic and various neighborhood continues to problem and alter my views on jewellery, artwork, and making.
I attempt to cowl a lot of the expertise and processes in metals that individuals anticipate finding in a up to date jewellery class, with an emphasis on these widespread to Indigenous metalsmithing practices. However I additionally work arduous to emphasise that whereas metalsmithing and steel fabrication are necessary—even important—to many jewellery traditions, there are simply as many who embrace few to not one of the supplies and strategies that a lot of the West synonymizes with jewellery. I encourage my college students to heart their very own private and cultural views on making and on artworks seated on the physique within the work they make, in addition to within the discourse they bring about to the classroom.
I additionally attempt, given jewellery’s relationship to the physique, to incorporate Indigenous views on the physique as part of our theoretical discourse—together with the concept that particular person our bodies belong to the land they inhabit, and seeing the land itself as a physique with company and rights. (I feel there’s a very fascinating relationship between jewellery and work that fills or intervenes in bodily areas, comparable to set up or land artwork.)
Is there something you’d wish to see change within the jewellery and metalsmithing discourse?
Brian Fleetwood: Oh, yeah. I’d wish to see a decentering of European metalsmithing practices in dialogue and criticism within the discipline. I’d additionally wish to see discourse that critically examines the taxonomy of artwork, making, and jewellery to problem Western and English-speaking hegemony over interpretation and categorization of fabric tradition typically.
When making work, do you’ve a particular viewers or venue in thoughts?
Brian Fleetwood: Viewers is form of tough in the case of jewellery, as a result of I would like as vast and various an viewers as attainable, however jewellery is so tied up with class and entry points that most individuals don’t consider it as something however a luxurious good or status object, at the least within the West. Signaling standing and wealth are widespread functions of knickknack however solely as a perform of knickknack serving as a instrument for performing id typically. So far as I’m involved, art work that’s seated on the physique is essentially the most essentially human format for art work, and I don’t suppose folks’s entry to artwork and materials tradition ought to hinge on their revenue or class.
Ultimately, I make work that covers a variety of value factors. I do make work that sells at a value that many if not most people I work together with would think about an extravagance, and I fairly like this work and benefit from the capacity it provides me to experiment with aesthetic, course of, and materials, however the primary perform of this work is to tell and fund the work that’s, frankly, most necessary to me.
I’ve just a few our bodies of labor which can be designed to encourage folks to have interaction extra deeply with my work and jewellery typically, and to create as a lot entry as attainable to the work. This work is fairly various and ranges from a mission the place I interview folks and make work for them as a present primarily based on the interview we maintain, to set up work that features takeaway jewellery elements that I normally consult with as “spores,” to a mission the place I make easy open-ended jewellery kits which can be distributed cheaply or free to as many people as attainable.
We’ve talked beforehand in regards to the accessibility and the promoting of your work. Who do you need to entry your work, or how?
Brian Fleetwood: Anybody, and in any manner they will! I’ve work in galleries and retailers. Kind & Idea, in Santa Fe, NM, is my primary venue. They do nice work, and the variety of labor and artists they exhibit is phenomenal. If somebody desires a few of my work, particularly in the event that they don’t need to have to attend for it, that is most likely the best manner. However I additionally make an effort to work with public faculties, museums, neighborhood facilities, and different teams to rearrange workshops and distributions of a few of this work as broadly as attainable. I additionally generally simply depart work round so that individuals can discover it. However anybody who reaches out and needs one thing is probably going to have the ability to get one thing. I can’t all the time do the free work rapidly, but it surely’s necessary to me and, even when there’s a wait, anybody can get one thing.
Ideally, I’d like whoever acquires my jewellery to put on it, although a few of my larger and weirder work generally is a problem for some of us. This sporting/performing of the work makes the wearer complicit and permits the work to maneuver by way of the world in a manner that’s distinctive to jewellery and doubtlessly will increase my viewers manyfold. That is essentially the most thrilling factor about jewellery for me, the way in which it combines a few of the parts of set up and efficiency, the way in which it rides a physique with a purpose to drift by way of the world.
What are some ideas for the long run? Is there a spot you’d like to point out or a mission you’d wish to make occur?
Brian Fleetwood: Completely. I’m all the time within the means of spreading myself too thinly. I’m at first levels of a mission known as Jewellery Dispenser. I’m restoring some previous gumball/toy merchandising machines to go away in non permanent, continuously altering places, the place of us will be capable of get a small random-ish jewellery object for 50 cents, or maybe in change for one thing much less tangible.
I’m additionally increasing a line of free jewellery kits I’ve been producing. The subsequent kits are going to be screen-printed single sheet kits and/or zines with folded paper jewellery patterns, and they need to be out comparatively quickly.
I’m additionally within the planning and design levels of making quite a few new public jewellery initiatives or jewellery interventions, together with some that use expertise to create work attentive to our bodies or environments.
I’m doing analysis to tell some collaborative neighborhood exhibitions that experiment with venue/format. I need to actually problem folks’s perceptions about how artwork can dwell on this planet exterior of formal gallery and exhibition areas.
I’ve obtained a curatorial mission within the works for the Museum of Modern Native Arts. The exhibition is scheduled to open in Spring 2022 and can discover the historical past of up to date Indigenous jewellery because it pertains to the Institute of American Indian Arts. There are a selection of analysis, writing, and exhibition initiatives I’m within the very early levels of, which can be supposed to create extra visibility for Indigenous jewellery practices.
The final new factor I’m engaged on, and it’s most likely a good distance off, are some explorations of the connection between jewellery and bodily areas exterior of the physique. I’ve obtained some concepts I’m fairly enthusiastic about that hopefully finish with work that blurs or breaks down a few of the distinctions between jewellery and land artwork, set up, or different kinds of labor that exist between our bodies and area.
The place can readers see extra of your work or comply with what you’re doing?
Kind & Idea, MoCNA, Middle for Craft, and random places round Santa Fe and in cities I go to. I’ve completed some work with a neighborhood various artwork venue, Axle Modern, a cellular gallery constituted of a refitted meals truck. I’m very unhealthy at self-promotion and social media, and lots of of these parasocial issues that individuals anticipate of parents working the humanities, however I attempt to be responsive if folks attain out. I can’t all the time reply rapidly, however I do my greatest.
Do you’ve any beneficial artist or different assets to have a look at?
Brian Fleetwood: Sure!
Any record of artists I give goes to inevitably omit some important and necessary of us. That mentioned, I’d advocate folks try the next Indigenous of us working with jewellery and adornment: Kenneth Johnson, Keri Ataumbi, Wanesia Misquidace (who combines conventional birch bark work with up to date silver work), Tania Larsson, Anangookwe Wolf, Carly Fedderson, Kevin Pourier, JQ Nightshade, Nicholas Begay, Hotvlkuce Harjo, Hollis Chitto, Ken Williams, Jr., Jamie Okuma, and Denise Wallace. I would argue the patron saint of Indigenous jewellery could be the late Charles Loloma, a mid-20th-century Hopi jeweler and the primary jewellery school at IAIA. Should you’re concerned with jewellery in any respect and aren’t accustomed to Loloma, please do your self a favor and take a look at his impeccable work.
Some museums the place of us can see Indigenous jewellery work: MIAC, the Wheelwright, the Heard, and the Eiteljorg. The Nationwide Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum usually has nice examples of Indigenous adornment and metalwork—Indigenous cowboy tradition is unquestionably a factor. There are some stunning examples of historic and pre-contact Indigenous adornment on the MET, but it surely’s additionally a monument to plunder, so … I don’t know, preserve that in thoughts in case you go to that assortment, I suppose.
If anybody lives close to any Native American or First Nations communities, you may look into whether or not they have a cultural heart or museum. In that case, they seemingly have data on materials tradition that most likely contains adornment.
Each August in Santa Fe is Indian Market, the most important Native artwork occasion in America. Along with Market, there are a selection of concurrent occasions and exhibitions. If somebody desires to get an overload of Indigenous jewellery, and artwork throughout just about any media, Market could be the place.
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS ARTIST AND SEE MORE OF HIS WORK, WATCH OUR RECORDING OF AJF LIVE WITH BRIAN FLEETWOOD.