Glad Indigenous Peoples’ Day! This text launches a brand new interview collection. It’s referred to as Indigenous &. A standard thread will tie them collectively. All of the interviewees determine as Indigenous. They usually all stay 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 apply. They can be seen within the work they produce. That “&” can be a method to enter specificity in nation, gender, sexuality, and different elements of being human.
This collection was impressed by talks I had with maker Tania Larsson. I beforehand interviewed her for Garland.[i] Listening to her specific the variety in approach, aesthetic, and materials that’s grouped beneath the time period Indigenous was thrilling. It additionally made me notice how a lot I nonetheless must study. I noticed there are issues I’ll by no means perceive however nonetheless have to be aware of and respect.
The title of this collection comes from an curiosity in intersectionality. The time period was coined by UCLA and Columbia regulation professor Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989. It has seen a revival in feminist scholarship. The time period’s authentic intention referenced black ladies and the regulation in america. It has since taken on a extra expansive that means. It has developed right into a extra broadly used time period to unpack many ideas and happenings. It exhibits that overlapping elements and demographics intersect when taking a look at 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’ll supply beginning factors. I would like others to look and discover extra from a spot of solidarity. Interviewees have supplied really useful sources and different makers to have a look at. This makes the interviews an entry level. You possibly can dive deeper and fall into rabbit holes.
You’ll discover some questions repeat between interviews. That is on goal. It exhibits simply among the potential numerous solutions. Different questions dive deeper in specificity to sure works and concepts of every maker.
This collection acts as a instrument for considering when approaching indigenous work. It isn’t an authority. Every interview will make clear and likewise complexify how, who, and what we take into consideration after 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 info and expertise to his college students but additionally 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 it is a collection 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 bought blended European heritage as nicely, 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 principal sources for this curiosity: a private fascination with and background in biology and organic buildings; Mvskoke teachings in regards to the relationships between dwelling issues and artwork practices that summary from organic kinds (particularly our floral beadwork); and a apply that entails processes I’ve little management over as soon as they’ve been set in movement.
As an autistic individual, considered 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 every one dwelling issues share. I’ve bought a factor for dinosaurs. I like that organisms which appear so alien and inscrutable to folks—fungi, crops, single-celled life, any variety of invertebrate animals—are actually family members to us. This runs parallel with conventional Mvskoke creation tales and cosmologies that emphasize the relationships between us and our nonhuman family members. On this vein, quite a lot of the elements of my work are knowledgeable in a technique or one other by Southeast summary floral beadwork designs. Finally, I additionally need to make work that behaves, at the very least partially, in methods which can be just like dwelling issues, and work in a collaborative approach with materials and course of whereby I set a course of in movement after which hand over management to permit that course of to return to its personal pure conclusion.
And this aesthetic is meant to serve a goal. 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 lots of the exhausting traces that we draw between issues, and particularly between ourselves and the world round us, are cultural constructs reasonably than real distinctions that exist as a basic property of the universe.
Are there any particular processes or aesthetics that you just 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 apply, like a little bit of shellwork. I additionally do some work with culturally particular kinds reminiscent of gorgets (a sort of pectoral/neck decoration). Nonetheless, I’m personally hesitant and cautious about making culturally particular work that exists outdoors of that cultural context, so these particular kinds and processes solely not often present up in my public work. However, like I stated earlier than, a lot of the natural aesthetic I take advantage of is knowledgeable at the very 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 endurance and kindness to share their information with me, specifically Sandy Wilson and Kenneth Johnson. There are additionally sources made obtainable via the Muscogee Nation authorities to assist the continuation and revitalization of culturally primarily based making practices, and I’m at the moment utilizing a few of these sources to broaden my information and expertise with supplies and kinds that I don’t have a lot expertise with.
Different mentors who influenced the best way I interact with supplies and processes are Mark Herndon, Chris Ramsay, and Susie Ganch.
I additionally love working collaboratively and I train. Studying easy methods to relate to work and course of in new methods is nearly inevitable when partaking 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 deal with Indigenous folks?
Brian Fleetwood: IAIA is exclusive as an establishment on the entire. All of our college students are required to take Indigenous Research courses as part of coursework, and even our math, science, and different gen-ed coursework facilities on Indigenous views and authors. However I feel in the beginning the largest 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 scholar physique. In any given semester our college students hail from dozens of Native communities, and at the moment 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 information and expertise to the classroom, and this extremely dynamic and numerous 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 folks look forward to finding in a recent jewellery class, with an emphasis on these frequent to Indigenous metalsmithing practices. However I additionally work exhausting to emphasise that whereas metalsmithing and metallic fabrication are vital—even important—to many jewellery traditions, there are simply as many who embody few to not one of the supplies and strategies that a lot of the West synonymizes with jewellery. I encourage my college students to middle 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 extremely fascinating relationship between jewellery and work that fills or intervenes in bodily areas, reminiscent of 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 subject. 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 generally.
When making work, do you will have a particular viewers or venue in thoughts?
Brian Fleetwood: Viewers is sort of tough relating to jewellery, as a result of I would like as vast and numerous an viewers as potential, 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 very least within the West. Signaling standing and wealth are frequent functions of jewellery however solely as a operate of jewellery serving as a instrument for performing identification generally. So far as I’m involved, art work that’s seated on the physique is probably the most basically human format for art work, and I don’t suppose folks’s entry to artwork and materials tradition ought to hinge on their earnings or class.
Ultimately, I make work that covers a variety of value factors. I do make work that sells at a price that many if not the general public I work together with would think about an extravagance, and I fairly like this work and benefit from the means it provides me to experiment with aesthetic, course of, and materials, however the principle operate of this work is to tell and fund the work that’s, frankly, most vital 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 generally, and to create as a lot entry as potential to the work. This work is fairly numerous and ranges from a venture 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 often confer with as “spores,” to a venture the place I make easy open-ended jewellery kits which can be distributed cheaply or free to as many of us as potential.
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 approach they will! I’ve work in galleries and outlets. Type & Idea, in Santa Fe, NM, is my principal 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 simplest approach. However I additionally make an effort to work with public colleges, museums, neighborhood facilities, and different teams to rearrange workshops and distributions of a few of this work as extensively as potential. I additionally generally simply go away work round so that folks can discover it. However anybody who reaches out and desires one thing is probably going to have the ability to get one thing. I can’t at all times do the free work rapidly, but it surely’s vital 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 could be a problem for some people. This carrying/performing of the work makes the wearer complicit and permits the work to maneuver via the world in a approach that’s distinctive to jewellery and probably will increase my viewers manyfold. That is probably the most thrilling factor about jewellery for me, the best way it combines among the components of set up and efficiency, the best way it rides a physique with a purpose to drift via the world.
What are some ideas for the longer term? Is there a spot you’d like to point out or a venture you’d wish to make occur?
Brian Fleetwood: Completely. I’m at all times within the means of spreading myself too thinly. I’m to start with phases of a venture referred to as Jewellery Dispenser. I’m restoring some previous gumball/toy merchandising machines to go away in short-term, consistently altering places, the place people will be capable of get a small random-ish jewellery object for 50 cents, or maybe in trade 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 phases of making quite a few new public jewellery initiatives or jewellery interventions, together with some that use know-how to create work conscious of 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 stay on the earth outdoors of formal gallery and exhibition areas.
I’ve bought a curatorial venture within the works for the Museum of Up to date 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 phases 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 outdoors of the physique. I’ve bought some concepts I’m fairly enthusiastic about that hopefully finish with work that blurs or breaks down among the distinctions between jewellery and land artwork, set up, or other forms 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?
Type & Idea, MoCNA, Heart for Craft, and random places round Santa Fe and in cities I go to. I’ve achieved some work with a neighborhood different artwork venue, Axle Up to date, 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 folks anticipate of oldsters working the humanities, however I attempt to be responsive if folks attain out. I can’t at all times reply rapidly, however I do my greatest.
Do you will have any really useful artist or different sources to have a look at?
Brian Fleetwood: Sure!
Any checklist of artists I give goes to inevitably miss some important and vital people. That stated, I’d advocate folks take a look at the next Indigenous people working with jewellery and adornment: Kenneth Johnson, Keri Ataumbi, Wanesia Misquidace (who combines conventional birch bark work with modern 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’d 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. If you happen to’re concerned with jewellery in any respect and aren’t aware of Loloma, please do your self a favor and take a look at his impeccable work.
Some museums the place people 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 lovely 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 when you go to that assortment, I assume.
If anybody lives close to any Native American or First Nations communities, you would possibly look into whether or not they have a cultural middle or museum. If that’s the case, they doubtless have info on materials tradition that most likely contains adornment.
Each August in Santa Fe is Indian Market, the largest Native artwork occasion in America. Along with Market, there are a variety 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.