GRANTEE: Henu Josephine Tarrant
NATIVE HERITAGE: Rappahannock, Kuna & Ho-Chunk
LOCATION: New York, NY
AWARD: 2021 LIFT – Early Career Support for Native Artists
DISCIPLINE: Multi-Disciplinary Arts
SOCIAL MEDIA: Instagram
Henu Josephine Tarrant is a multi-talented actress, playwright, filmmaker, singer, songwriter, and comedienne. She is currently serving as the Managing Director of Safe Harbors NYC’s Reflections of Native Voices Festival, a theater organization focused on producing & creating Indigenous theater in New York City. Her most recent work includes a horror short she directed, Native Theatre: Where Are We Now?, for Howlround Theatre Commons; and her one-woman show Red Moon Blues, both written and performed by Tarrant in contemporary song and dance.
Tarrant is a third-generation New Yorker from a renowned family of theater artists, which has had a huge influence on her very urban experience as a Native woman in the performing arts. Through her lived experiences and professional development, she has acquired skills that have honed her personal aesthetic and perceptions of film and performance. Her work is often an examination of Native women who are exhausted by tokenism, hyper-sexualization, and exploitation. She raises the questions, “What is Native feminism and my role as a Native Woman performer? What does feminism mean to Native women in urban areas?”
Tarrant’s LIFT project will be a concept video album, Serpent, a human yet dark story of coming into Indigenous Womanhood in a post-apocalyptic cyber New York City, moving through chapters of birth, death, and resurrection. It is a reflection of her real life as a grieving daughter who lost her father during the COVID-19 pandemic. It presents three songs in video format, connected together through poetry and interviews with a cohort of Native matriarchs in her life. The project will culminate with watch parties for the community at various theaters in New York City. All watch parties will provide a feast, traditional music, and a live performance to welcome the community to her work.
[My work] faces the invisibility of Native peoples in urban metropolitan areas which contributes to the lack of support we receive, specifically in health which has devastated Indian Country during this pandemic.
—Henu Josephine Tarrant (Rappahannock, Kuna & Ho-Chunk)