Sculptors Respond: Indigenous (hi)Story, Land and “Belonging” in an Era of Anti-Immigration

Kansas City, Missouri – In October 2017, the 27th Annual International Sculpture Conference featured the panel Indigenous Sculptors Respond: Indigenous (hi)Story, Land and “Belonging” in an Era of Anti-Immigration, moderated by artist Gerald Clarke (Cahuilla) and featuring speakers Rose B. Simpson (Santa Clara Pueblo), Cannupa Hanska Luger (Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lakota), and Holly Wilson (Delaware Nation/Cherokee).

This panel discussed the rise of anti-immigration in America and the concept of “belonging” to a place. Questions discussed included: what does it mean to belong? How do artists engage with the idea of citizenship and belonging? What strategies do they employ to address concepts, political statements, and identity within a country, region, community, or site? What can be learned from their artwork and backstory? Each artist brought their unique perspective regarding the intersection of current political issues, art, and their specific work as sculptors.

As Mr. Clarke shared: “Conference attendees seemed very interested in the perspective our panel was offering. As indigenous artists, we have views of the contemporary world that is informed by our cultural backgrounds and history. The conference theme of ‘Belonging’ was a starting point for us to speak about our work, how we relate to our communities and even where Native art ‘belongs’ in a museum.”

Support from the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation covered the travel and lodging expenses of all three panelists, alleviating what would otherwise be an economic burden. The Native Arts and Cultures Foundation is proud to support these artists as they use their work to discuss critical contemporary issues. We believe art as a medium of discussion can help bridge communities and build a better understanding of social issues.