In June 2021, I contributed an article to the Smithsonian Voices site about LGBTQIA+ Pride and Two Spirit people. Instead of speaking abstractly about Two Spirit people, I wanted to interview Two Spirit people about their experiences and how they celebrate Pride. Many thanks to Geo Socomah Neptune, Neebinnaukzhik Southall, James Abler and Terry Johnson II, and Alray Nelson for speaking to me.
“The term Two-Spirit originated in 1990 by Myra Laramee (Cree) at the Third Annual Inter-tribal Native American, First Nations, Gay and Lesbian American Conference in Winnipeg. It is a translation of “niizh manidoowag” or “two spirits” in the Anishinaabe language. While Native people might use the terms gay, lesbian, or transgender, Two-Spirit is a term created by Native people for Native people. More people are becoming familiar with the term, and there are Two-Spirit events across North America, including the annual Two-Spirit Powwow in San Francisco. This Pride Month, I interviewed Native people from various tribal communities about being Two-Spirit and how they celebrate that identity…
“Johnson, as a member of Zuni Pueblo, grew up with stories about We’wha (1849-1896), the well-known Zuni lhamana (the term in the Zuni language). As Johnson explained, “We’wha was valued [at Zuni] for being both male and female and was a weaver, potter, took care of the children, gathered wood. We’wha did everything.” Johnson likes the term Two-Spirit, because “the Creator gifts people with one breath of life but gifted us with two breaths.”
Read the full article at:
“We Are Not Separate from Our Communities: LGBTQIA+ Pride and Two-Spirit People,” Smithsonian Voices (online), 23 June 2021.
In the March 2021 issue of Journal of Modern Craft, I wrote for the “Commentary” section where the journal reposts an older article and someone from the field responds to it.
The original article is “The Lure and Lore of Indian Art” by Vincent Price from American Way (June 1971). Yes, the author was that Vincent Price, the actor. And yes, the publication is the in-flight magazine for American Airlines.
This is the opening part of my commentary:
“While Native Americans have always resisted settler encroachment and attacks on their spiritual practices, sacred sites, and cultural ways, the late 1960s and early 1970s represent increased visibility around Indigenous activism. In June 1971, the publication date for ‘The Lure and Lore of Indian Art’, Native American activists, calling themselves the Indians of All Tribes, had spent nineteen months (November 1969 – June 1971) occupying the former federal prison on Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay. Media coverage about the occupation remained constant, and celebrities such as Jane Fonda and Anthony Quinn visited the island to lend their support.
“The article’s author, Vincent Price, might seem like a curious choice for an essay on Native American art, but he had been the chair of the Indian Arts and Crafts Board (IACB), a U.S. federal arts agency established to promote the development of Native arts and crafts through economic development enterprises, since 1967. Price is often remembered as the screen actor who both frightened and delighted people in various thriller movies from the 1940s until his death in 1993, but he was an art collector and arts advocate as well.”
The full article info:
The Journal of Modern Craft
Volume 14—Issue 1
I found out that the catalogue for the Crafting America exhibition at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is out! The exhibit features “over 100 works in ceramics, fiber, wood, metal, glass, and more unexpected materials, [and] Crafting America presents a diverse and inclusive story of American craft from the 1940s to today.” My essay is entitled, “Embodying Indigenous Identity and Place” and speaks about the problematic history surrounding using the term “craft” for Native American art. That term has devalued Native American art economically, creatively, and ideologically. Instead, I propose shifting to Indigenous-centered epistemologies, etc. The catalogue can be found here.
Some of my recent publications.
“Together We Lift the Sky: Yehaw and Black-Indigenous Artists Advance Social Justice,” NMAI magazine (Winter 2020): 18-23.
“Art as Indigenous Presence and Resistance: The Work of Mike Patten, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Neil Ambrose-Smith, and C. Maxx Stevens.” Essay for Larger Than Memory: Contemporary Art from Indigenous North America exhibition at the Heard Museum, Phoenix, AZ (2020), 75-87.
“Memory, Landscape, Knowledge: The Clay Practices of Indigenous Artists” (with Sequoia Miller). Essay for Form & Relation: Contemporary Native Ceramics exhibition at the Hood Museum of Art, Hanover, NH (2020), 22-31.
“Seven Directions.” First American Art Magazine (Summer 2020): 14-17.
I am presenting at the College Art Association conference on February 15, 2019 in NYC!
“Land Art Reconsidered: Land Use, Water Rights and Indigenous Sovereignty”
panel discussion at the 2019 College Art Association conference on Friday, February 15 between 10:30 am – 12:00 pm at the Hilton Midtown 2nd floor Gramercy East in New York City.
From the Center of the Earth: The Land Art of Pueblo Artist Nora Naranjo-Morse
Anya Montiel, PhD
When the Albuquerque Public Art Program supported an outdoor sculptural commission to commemorate the arrival of Spanish explorer Juan de Oñate into present-day New Mexico, Santa Clara Pueblo artist Nora Naranjo-Morse contributed Numbe Whageh, the city’s first work of land art in 2005. Unlike the other artists’ sculpture celebrating European settlement and history, Naranjo-Morse countered the colonial narrative by creating an earthwork based in Indigenous cosmologies and constructed with native vegetation. Translating as “Our Center Place,” the mounds of earth spiraled into a subterranean place, representing the center of Pueblo creation. The following year she won a national sculptural commission in Washington, D.C., and built Always Becoming, a set of five figures representing a familial unit, dissimilar from D.C.’s memorials to prominent individuals or military victories. And like its title, each snowfall and rainstorm alters the organic surfaces of Always Becoming to transform the figures physically. Naranjo-Morse explained that, “The sculptures’ metaphor of community, home, and family not only conveys a universal theme to all peoples, but also enhances visitors’ experiences that they have entered a Native place.” Through examining two of Naranjo-Morse’s land art pieces, Numbe Whageh and Always Becoming, this paper addresses her artistic vision and process which is grounded in her indigenous worldview and upbringing in a family of female ceramicists. As Naranjo-Morse’s art re-indigenizes urban American landscapes, how have they been received by non-Native publics? How does her art challenge and disrupt colonial history, especially in places extoling European-American achievement?
I am behind in my updates, but I had the pleasure of presenting my research on community-based murals at the 2018 College Art Association meeting in Los Angeles. I look forward to the 2019 meeting!
“MURAL, MURAL ON THE WALL: SUCCESSES AND SETBACKS AMONG COMMUNITY MURAL PROJECTS, CA. 2008–TODAY “
Time: 02/22/2018: 2:00PM–3:30PM
Location: Room 405
Chair: Shalon Parker, Gonzaga University
““Our Culture is Not for Sale”: Community Murals Catalyzing Gentrification Resistance in San Francisco’s Mission District”
Anya Montiel, Yale University
“Peace on the Walls: Reinventing Political Street Murals in Belfast”
Deborah Saleeby-Mulligan, Manhattanville College
“Incomplete Image: A Citywide Mural for Philadelphia”
Laura Holzman, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis
“SPARC: Igniting the Los Angeles Community Mural Movement”
Carlos Rogel, University of California, Los Angeles
The October 2017 issue of Art in America is dedicated to contemporary Indigenous art. I was honored to contribute an article, After Columbus, which analyzes the Native art exhibitions mounted by Indigenous curators and artists in response to planned celebrations around the 1992 Columbian Quincentennial. These exhibitions are important to our understanding of contemporary American art and remain pertinent today.
In November 2016, the estate of the late artist Rick Bartow (1946-2016) gifted Yale’s Beinecke Library with Bosch, a hand-bound book containing thirteen drypoints by Bartow which were bound with Mexican amate paper. The book, completed two weeks before his passing, contains self-portraits and images of birds.
Bartow scratched the drypoint plates in spring of 2015. His friend and master printer, Seeichi Hiroshima, then printed them on Barcham Green paper. Bartow signed the prints in February 2016 and added watercolor and gouache in March. Bartow passed away on April 2, 2016.
Bosch is now in the collection of the Beinecke Library where it joins two more artists books by Bartow, 10 Little Indian Boys (2009) and 8 Prints + 4 Variations (2009).
I wrote about one of the drypoint prints, “Ride to Town,” for the Object Lesson feature of the July/August 2017 issue of the Yale Alumni Magazine.
The article can be found online: Ride to Town
The summer 2017 issue of American Indian magazine features three articles I wrote. One is about the multidisciplinary arts cooperative, Postcommodity, and their projects about the U.S.-Mexico border, especially the land installation Repellent Fence. I also wanted to write about indigenous nations living along the U.S-Mexico border and their reactions to the proposed border wall. My second article is about the Tohono O’odham Nation and the tribe’s response to such a permanent border. The third article was a memorial piece about Pablita Abeyta (1953-2017), a Navajo sculptor and former staff person at the National Museum of the American Indian. I met Pablita in 2001, and we remained friends. I was honored to have been asked to write her memorial article.
The online issue of the magazine can be found:
In January 2018, I visited the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians to spend time at the Chahta Immi Cultural Center. I brought copies of photographs I found in the National Archives that detailed arts and crafts workshops sponsored by the Indian Arts and Crafts Board in the 1960s and 1970s. I hoped to speak with the participants of these workshops and learn more about the aftereffects of these programs. Unfortunately, most of the participants had passed away. Nevertheless, it was wonderful for community members to see photographs of relatives that had been stored in the National Archives for decades. I left copies of these photographs with Amanda Bell, tribal archivist, along with a list of the Mississippi Choctaw items in the Indian Arts and Crafts Board Headquarters collection (now housed at the National Museum of the American Indian).
My visit was covered in the Choctaw Community News (vol. XLVII, No. 2, February 2017).