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We Define Ourselves art installation is happening at Krannert Art Museum next week

Friday, August 3rd from 4 to 6:30 p.m. there will be a reception hosted by Native American House at the Link Gallery. Artist Ryan Young will be giving a talk about their solo exhibition We Define Ourselves at 4:15. From the KAM website:

“Ryan Young (They/Them/Their) is a multi-disciplinary Two Spirit Ojibwe artist completing their BFA in Studio Arts and a certificate in Performing Arts this fall at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM.”

Young is also currently working at the Native American House at the University of Illinois as the Coordinator for Two Spirit and Indigenous Programming.

Here is the artist’s statement:

“I’ve never called myself an Indian artist. Everyone else has.”

   – Fritz Scholder

Scholder’s art provoked questions that a lot of contemporary Indigenous artists ask themselves (e.g. “What is Indian art? Who is an Indian artist? To what extent must a person have lived an ‘Indian life’ to be an Indian artist? What of the non-Indian who employs traditional Indian styles or treats Indian subjects?“)

As artists, we are constantly in a tug of war between defining our work and having our work defined for us. This becomes especially difficult as artists with intersectional identities.

Norval Morrisseau has been long identified as an Indigenous artist, but was also openly bisexual. His artistic style identified him as a Native artist to his audience, which overshadowed his sexuality, despite its presence in some of his work. What makes his art more Indigenous than queer? Who identifies an artwork as either Indigenous or queer? Is it the artist, or the audience who interprets their work?

As a Two Spirit artist, I’m always having these discussions with my art. Is my queer art Indigenous? Is my Indigenous art queer? How is it defined? Is it the artist who makes the work? Is it the subject matter, or lack thereof? Even the context of the space the work is shown can play a role.

The pieces shown in this gallery reflects my empowerment as a Two Spirit person. This work that cannot be identified as solely one part of my identity or the other; it is equally queer and Indigenous.

Managing Editor

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