Grantee:  Luzene Hill
Native Ancestry:  Eastern Band Cherokee
Location: Atlanta, Ga.
Award:  2016 National Artist Fellowship
Discipline:  Visual Arts
Web Site:

Luzene Hill has a long-standing career with numerous solo and group exhibitions primarily in the southeastern region. She earned an MFA from Western Carolina University and most recently was a faculty member at Callanwolde Arts Center in Atlanta, GA. In addition to her exhibitions, Hill has given artist talks, curated exhibitions and participated in panel discussions.

Luzene Hill works with paper, ink, charcoal, beeswax and fabric, which to her represent the vulnerability of life. She is keen to address endangered languages and violence against women in her works by presenting an alternative perception to the topic through her art where she symbolically exemplifies women reclaiming personal and cultural sovereignty.

Hill’s first multi media installation, “ . . . the body and blood”, addressed violence against women in a global context. Research for that work revealed alarming statistics confirming Native women are 2.5 times more likely to be assaulted than non-Native women. Concurrently, she was working with the Cherokee language revitalization project and came to better understand the structure and importance of language in a culture. Hill discovered a cultural connection between language and violence against women. She learned that ending violence against women could depend on regaining cultural strength through the revitalization of language.

Luzene’s work since 2012 incorporates the Inka khipu knotting system. Historically, the khipu was a counting method and a system of recording history, stories, poetry, and events. She uses it now as a three-dimensional language in her work to give Native women a voice. Her goal with the knots has been to create an exposition of the number of unreported sexual assaults that occur each day during an installation period.

Luzene will continue researching on sixteen Inka khipu between two renowned museum collections—the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale University—with the support of the NACF National Artist Fellowship. Her goal is not to re-create a traditional khipu but to metaphorically represent Native women joining to sacred space through the daily movement of this installation.

Vulnerability is a recurring theme in my work. To accept that reality—vulnerability of the human condition—is ultimately empowering.
~ Luzene Hill