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Joaqlin Estus
Indian Country Today

Ten of the 63 artists receiving $50,000 unrestricted cash awards from United States Artists are Native American. US Artists announced its 2022 Fellows on Wednesday. The group selected from 10 disciplines are the largest cohort since the organization’s start 16 years ago.

The award “honors their creative accomplishments and supports their ongoing artistic and professional development,” US Artists said in a prepared statement.

“We are thrilled to award fellowships to sixty-three artists – the largest cohort in USA’s history – this year,” said US Artists Board Chair Ed Henry. “Our work continues to illuminate the importance of elevating individual artists and cultural practitioners in communities across the country.These sixty three fellows are representative of the magnificent range of disciplines and diversity of our nation's artists…The breadth and depth of talent and the commitment of artists to their communities is remarkable,” he said.

US Artists Program Director Lynnette Miranda said, “The 2022 USA Fellows were selected for their remarkable artistic vision, their commitment to community – both in their specific communities and their discipline at large – and the potential to influence future generations.”

United States Artists has awarded more than $36 million to artists since its start in 2006.

The 2022 cohort includes textile artist Melissa Cody, Dine’; transdisciplinary and dance artist Rosy Simas, Seneca; musician Laura Ortman, White Mountain Apache; Indigenous musician Qacung, Yup’ik; vocalist, songwriter, composer, and educator Martha Redbone, Cherokee/Choctaw; actor, playwright, artistic director and advocate DeLanna Studi, Cherokee;

raised beadwork artist Karen Ann Hoffman, Haudenosaunee; artist and educator Marty Two Bulls Jr., Oglala Lakota; painter Andrea Carlson, Ojibwe; and culture bearer, artist, designer, and educator Peter Williams, Yup’ik;

Here is information about the 2022 USA Fellows and their work.

CRAFT

World Traveler, 2014. Wool warp, weft, selvedge cords, and aniline dyes, dimensions 90 × 48  inches. Collection of Stark Museum of Art, Orange Texas. Photo courtesy the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York

Melissa Cody, Dine’, textile artist, Long Beach, California.

“The pandemic has been difficult for all of us from the universal experience of prolonged isolation to the all-too-common loss of loved ones. Episodes like these can also serve as reminders of the importance of building community and cultural continuity. I feel more urgency than ever to use my work to hand down skills and traditions and to create connections between generations in my community,” Cody told United States Artists.

United States Artists 2022 Fellow Melissa Cody. Portrait photo courtesy of the artist.

Born in 1983 in No Water Mesa, Arizona, Cody is an enrolled citizen of the Navajo Nation. In 2007, Cody received a bachelor’s degree in studio arts and museum studies from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

A fourth-generation Navajo weaver, she approaches weaving as an ever-evolving craft tradition and art form. Her intricate tapestries are often associated with the Germantown Revival, a style named after the government wool supplied to the Navajo during the time of the Long Walk. The vivid dyes and new economic pressures prompted enterprising Navajo weavers to adapt, creating bold, new, commercially viable textiles that could sustain them. Her work carries that balance of tradition, history, and contemporaneity forward. Working on a traditional Navajo loom, Cody recombines traditional patterns into sophisticated geometric overlays and haptic color schemes, often integrating disparate visuals from contemporary life.

Cody’s work has been featured at many museums and galleries.

DANCE

Image from Blood Lines installation. Photo courtesy of the artist

Rosy Simas, Seneca, Heron Clan, transdisciplinary and dance artist from Mni Sota Makoce, Minnesota

“Before the dual pandemics, I and the artists I work with were already struggling with racism, bias, and phobias, which we're making our working and living environments ungrounding and unsafe. Since the onset of the pandemics, I have been driven to make space, hold space and offer ideas on how we can rest in movement and find refuge for that rest. This has been critical in order to survive the onslaught of bigotry and violence so we can be creative. What I have had to do this last year is to set aside my ambition to produce work in the ways I had in the past. I had to really leave the commodity culture that producing work for stage rooted in. I had to set aside the demands I made on myself and those I work with and focus on what we needed as individuals. So we could come together. We spend our time in a practice of grieving, condoling and resting. We share this practice and I have let go of trying to meet the expectations of those who think I should be doing otherwise,” Simas told United States Artists.

United States Artists - Rosy Simas by Tim Rummelhoff Courtesy McKnight Fellowships for Choreographers 2016

Simas, an enrolled citizen of the Seneca Nation, Heron clan, is a transdisciplinary and dance artist who creates work for stage and installation. Simas’ work weaves themes of personal and collective identity with family, sovereignty, equality, and healing. Simas creates dance work with a team of Native artists and artists of color, driven by movement-vocabularies developed through deep listening.

Her dance works include “Weave,” “Skin(s)” and “We Wait in the Darkness,” which have toured throughout Turtle Island. Simas’ installations have been exhibited at the Seneca-Iroquois National Museum, All My Relations Arts, SOO visuals Center, and the Weisman Art Museum.

She has received numerous fellowships and honors for dance and choreography.

Simas is the artistic director of Rosy Simas Danse and Three Thirty One Space, a creative studio for Native and BIPOC artists in Minneapolis.

.THEATER AND PERFORMANCE

Delanna Studi, Cherokee, actor, playwright, artistic director, and advocate Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma

“As a Native actor and playwright, the film and theater community only inquire about my availability when they need an Indigenous voice. 2021 was my first time receiving commissions, where I had the luxury of writing about anything I wanted and not specific requests for Native content,” Simas told United States Artists.

United States Artists - DeLanna Studi. Portrait photo by Lorenzo Hodges.

Studi is a proud citizen of the Cherokee Nation. Studi has over 25 years of experience as a performer, storyteller, educator, facilitator, advocate, and activist. Her theater credits include the first national Broadway tour of the Tony Award– and Pulitzer Prize-winning play “August: Osage County,” off-Broadway’s “Gloria: A Life” (Daryl Roth Theatre), and “Informed Consent” (Duke on 42nd Street); her regional credits include work at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Portland Center Stage, Cornerstone in Los Angeles, and the Indiana Repertory Theatre.

She originated roles in 20-plus world-premiere plays, including 14 Native productions. A pivotal moment in her career was writing and performing “And So We Walked: An Artist’s Journey Along the Trail of Tears,” for which she retraced with her father her family’s footsteps along the Trail of Tears. “And So We Walked” has been produced throughout the country and was the first American play chosen for the Journées Théâtrales de Carthage in Tunisia. It recently made its off-Broadway debut at Minetta Lane Theatre, where it was recorded for Audible.

As a playwright, she has been commissioned by several noteworthy theaters. She stars in the Peabody Award-winning film “Edge of America,” and other shows. Since 2007, she has served as the chair of the SAG-AFTRA Native Americans Committee. Studi is the artistic director of Native Voices at the Autry.

TRADITIONAL ARTS

Feather Holder, 2014. 14 karat gold and glass beads on velvet, dimensions 16 × 5 inches. Photo by James Gill Photography

Karen Anne Hoffman, Haudeensaunee, raised beadwork artist , Stevens Point, Wisconsin

Hoffman told Indian Country Today, “When I found out I was awarded this United States artist fellowship, the first thing I felt was this huge sense of excitement quickly followed by this really strong sense of responsibility, because I know that although I might think I do some good things in the world, I know I'm not the only one. And so this really struck me as an opportunity to represent for all the Native artists that have been, that are now producing amazing work and to represent for the artists that will come in the future. So, yes, I'm proud. Yes. I'm excited. Yes. I'm thrilled to death, but I also understand this is a great responsibility for speak for all our people and all our arts.

“To have 20 percent of this year's class (of United States Artists awardees) be Indigenous is a big deal. It is a landmark in a watershed for far too long. In my opinion, our arts have been considered by the dominant culture to be throwaway, to be of passing interest, to be things that you would collect in a tourist or, and most importantly in their minds to be things of the past for 20 percent of the us artists fellowship in 2022 to be Native really says that people are beginning to understand that our art is of the now that we still exist and that our art forms, although they are very old stretch into the future. And so do our people, it is a big deal to enter these rooms on an equal footing to be in these spaces on an equal footing. Finally, and I would say that United States artists is really one of the organizations that is at the forefront of understanding that and doing something about it,” Hoffman said.

United States Artists 2022 award recipient Karen Ann Hoffman. Portrait photo by Wisconsin Public Radio/JPotter.

Hoffman is a Haudenosaunee raised beadwork artist and citizen of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin. Hoffman lives, hunts, and gardens in a rural area of central Wisconsin sheltered by trees and grasslands and poised on the edge of a marsh.

US Artists called raised beadwork a rare and elegant style whose forms and designs reach back over 14,000 years. It is a cultural hallmark for those of the Six Nations, linking the lessons of their past with the celebration of their today and the joyful anticipation of their future. It is this long and deep cultural connection that beckons and inspires her. “As a beader,” she says, “it is my privilege and responsibility to peer through that cultural lens, reflect on contemporary Indigenous experiences, and describe what I see on a field of velvet using glass beads and a steel needle.”

A slow and thoughtful beader, Hoffman often spends a year or more in the creation of one of her legacy pieces. crafted to be exquisitely culturally connected, these pieces are brought to life slowly and gently. They speak, she says, not for her as an individual, but for her People — past, present and future. They sing the lessons of their Ancestors in voices strong and clear.

​Gee Chee Mon Unsica, 2019. Glazed ceramic, dimensions 12 × 4 × 6 inches. Photo by Willi White

Marty Two Bulls, Jr, Oglala, artist and educator based in Rapid City, South Dakota.

Two Bulls is an enrolled citizen of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and was raised in the High Plains of South Dakota.

“More than ever, my art practice has been an important factor in my survival this past year. I’ve used my art to process. I’ve also used my art as a way of speaking up for and with my community,” Two Bulls told USA.

United States Artists 2022 award recipient Marty Two Bulls Jr. (Portrait photo by Johnny Sundby).

He comes from a family of diverse artists. His father, Marty Two Bulls Sr., is an accomplished artist and was his first art instructor. He grew up in his father’s studio, where he learned the fundamentals of sculpture, illustration, graphic design, and, most importantly, how to make a living as a creative person. Two Bulls eventually went on to study printmaking and ceramics at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, where he earned a bachelor’s in fine arts in 2011. After graduation, he spent several years in Santa Fe developing his art practice and working in contemporary art galleries, where he worked with a plethora of contemporary artists from around the world.

In 2017, he was offered a full-time faculty position with Oglala Lakota College (OLC) to teach art. He jumped at the opportunity to return to his homelands and work with his tribal community. Since returning home, Two Bulls has created a graphic arts program at OLC and continues to work as a positive force for the arts in his communities both near and far.

Seasons' Transitions, 2019. Seal, otter, thread, dimensions variable

Peter Williams, Yup’ik, is a culture bearer, artist, designer, and educator based in Alaska. Williams hand-sewn works repurpose skin from self-harvested traditional foods, bridging worlds of Indigenous art and subsistence.

United States Artists 2022 award recipient Peter Williams. (Portrait photo by Colin Russell).

He completed artist residencies at the Santa Fe Art Institute and the Institute of American Indian Arts and has guest lectured and/or taught skin sewing at Yale University, Stanford University, UCLA, the Portland Art Museum, and the Alaska State Museum, among other venues. His art has been shown at museums and galleries across North America.

His presentations at New York Fashion Week and Fashion Week Brooklyn in 2015 and 2016 led to profiles in The Guardian and The New York Times. He coproduced the documentary “Harvest: Quyurciq,” which received a Native Peoples Action project grant and screened internationally.

VISUAL ART

Andrea Carlson, Ojibwe, an artist and writer who moved from Minneapolis to Chicago in 2016.

“My attention span favors those who tell tales. I must live to be slow-walked through anecdotal observations, personal accounts and the telling of family histories. This is something my practice needs and has been suffering for in isolation,” Carlson told USA. (See photo of "Long Weekend" at top of article).

United States Artists 2022 award recipient Andrea Carlson. (Portrait photo by Theodore Cushman).

Through painting and drawing, Carlson cites entangled cultural narratives relating to objects and their possession and display. Her current research activities include museum studies, Indigenous futurism, and film studies. Her work has been acquired by institutions such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, and the National Gallery of Canada. Carlson was a 2008 McKnight Artist Fellow and received a 2017 Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant, a 2020 3Arts Make a Wave award, and a 2021 Chicago Artadia Award.

MUSIC

Laura Ortman, White Mountain Apache, musician and composer, from Brooklyn, New York.

“My practice always reminds me of all the energies of how alive we are with our music, art, dance theater, writing, filmmaking building, and beyond. Beginning with just sparks of ideas and inspiration from generations ago of family, friends, nature, all creatures that surround us that gets to grow and grow until we're all twirled up into creative and collaborative societies that are listening together to the world around us each day, a soloist musician, composer and vibrant collab collaborator,” Ortman told USA.

United States Artists 2022 award recipient Laura Ortman. (Portrait photo by Marne Lucas).

A soloist musician, composer, and vibrant collaborator, Ortman creates across multiple platforms, including recorded albums, live performances, and filmic and artistic soundtracks. Ortman has collaborated with numerous noted artists. An inquisitive and exquisite violinist, she is versed in Apache violin, piano, electric guitar, keyboards, and amplified violin; she often sings through a megaphone and is a producer of capacious field recordings.

Ortman has performed at the Whitney Museum of American Art and Museum of Modern Art in New York, Musée d’art contemporain in Montreal, and Centre Pompidou in Paris, as well as countless established and DIY venues across the United States, Canada, and Europe. In 2008, she founded the Coast Orchestra, an all-Native American orchestral ensemble. She has received several fellowships and other honors.

Qacung Stephen Blanchett, Indigenous musician, Bethel, Alaska.

“Music and dance are keys or tools for us to keep our culture alive, our language alive to save our people. We're doing this to save our lives and using art to try to bring a light to the darkness. It's amazing to me how much our cultural practice brings healing and joy in the dark moon times," Qacung told United States Artists.

Qacung Stephen Blanchett (Portrait photo by Konrad Frank)

One of the main impetuses behind Qacung’s entry into the world of performance art was his own mixed cultural heritage. Qacung is the son of a strong Yup’ik Inuit mother, who raised him in an extremely traditional way, and a strong African American father, who taught him to be proud of his Black heritage, which also shaped his upbringing. As he has done many times in his artistic work, he had to blend and mix his own story and experiences to bring his life into completion.

Qacung is a global citizen whose Yup’ik and Black roots guide his leadership and artistic vision. He has served in leadership roles with the Alaska Native Heritage Center, First Alaskans Institute, Pamyua, and other arts, culture, and community service entities. He is proud to chair the Advancing Indigenous Performance program at Western Arts Alliance.

Martha Redbone, vocalist song, raw composer and educator, Brooklyn, New York.

“One surprising thing I learned through my practice this year has been the value of patience, reflection, and community. We suffered great losses during the pandemic. Yet, somehow we managed to continue creating work in different ways, continuing in a way that heals, including ourselves. In my opinion, musicians became essential workers. Music healed us in more ways than I ever imagined or expected. Social media became our connecting friend, our catalyst for activism, social justice, kindness, and community support,” Redbone said to USA.

United States Artists 2022 Fellowship award recipient Martha Redbone (Photo by Christine Jean Chambers, Courtesy United States Artists).

Redbone is a Native and African American vocalist/songwriter/composer/educator.

Redbone is known for her music gumbo, which infuses the folk, blues, and gospel from her childhood in Harlan County, Kentucky, with the eclectic grit of pre-gentrified Brooklyn.

Inheriting the powerful vocal range of her gospel-singing African American father and the resilient spirit of her mother’s Cherokee/Choctaw culture, she broadens the boundaries of American Roots music. With songs and storytelling that share her life experience as an Afro-Indigenous woman and mother navigating the new millennium, she gives voice to issues of social justice, bridging traditions, connecting cultures, and celebrating the human spirit. Her latest album, “The Garden of Love: Songs of William Blake,” has been described as “a brilliant collision of cultures” (New Yorker).

Her recordings, touring, and cultural preservation workshops are under her own indie label, a partnership she shares with longtime collaborator/husband Aaron Whitby. Their recent work has been in theater and music education. Redbone is based in Brooklyn.

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