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How Are Native American Artists Envisioning the Future?

How Are Native American Artists Envisioning the Future? | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Documentation, Better Off Alone, Kite, 2019. Photo by Britney Townsend, Interaccess.

Moderated by Manuela Well-Off-Man, Chief Curator, Museum of Contemporary Native Arts

Native American artists have long used explorations of the future as a way to reflect on the present. Contemporary Native artists, from the Mohawk sci-fi multimedia artist Skawennati to the Navajo photographer Will Wilson, are using innovative techniques to create visual art, literature, comics, and installations to build on that tradition and reframe it in a modern context. Often described as “Indigenous Futurisms,” this movement has reconsidered science fiction’s colonialist narratives in ways that place the Native American experience at their heart. What are the inspirations for this wave of futuristic work? How does it build on the many traditions of Native American art forms? And to what extent does this art suggest ideas for addressing civilizational threats like climate change, plagues, inequality, and mass violence? Harvard historian and Becoming Mary Sully: Toward an American Indian Abstract author Philip J. Deloria, visual and performance artist Kite, and writer and Sweet Land librettist Aja Couchois Duncan visit Zócalo to explore the future through the art of today.

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The Takeaway

Auto Draft | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

How Native American Artists Are Claiming the Future

Across the Arts, Indigenous Creators Are Drawing From the Past to Imagine Different Paths Forward

Over the last 50 years, futurity has become an important theme among native people and artists, said Harvard historian Philip J. Deloria during a Zócalo event entitled “How Are Native …