» Catalyst Series
Dimensions of Indigenous & Cultural Identity Politics
Ce Tempoxcalli and Intermedia Arts present
Dimensions of Indigenous & Cultural Identity Politics
Curated by Electric Machete Studios
Featuring work by Gordon Coons, Ojibwa, Lac Courte Oreilles
& Rebekah Crisanta de Ybarra, Xinka-Lenca, El Salvador

The impacts of colonization can still be felt today in our communities, manifesting in different but similarly meaningful ways for Indigenous Peoples living in the Midwest. The tension, distrust, and trauma from generations of relocation, cultural appropriation, assimilation and genocide make unity difficult for those who have survived. Further, divide and conquer tactics such as tribal enrollment, blood quantum, and erasure add to the tensions that have built up onto the invisible barriers of colonial thinking that keep our communities divided.

As Dimensions of Indigenous seeks to unite Indigenous people of the four directions and as tension around immigration and who can claim to be Indigenous make it difficult, in a stripped down version of the exhibition curators Gordon Coons and Rebekah Crisanta de Ybarra explore dimensions of Indigeneity through an intimate view of their practice. In conversation with one another, their installation work explores Indigenous cultural identity politics through the modern expression of color and paper cuttings. 


Dig Deeper ...

Opening Reception
November 28, 2016 | 5:30PM
Join us for an opening reception with artists, snacks, music, and installation performances in collaboration with the #sayhername performance, also opening on the same evening.

Storytelling Bus + Potluck Feast + Talking Circle: Dimensions of Indigeneity in Minnesota
January 29, 2017 | 3-5PM
A Storytelling Bus will pick you up at locations around the Twin Cities (see schedule below). Travel on the bus to the Talking Circle and Potluck feast while listening to and sharing stories by Al Gross, Lupe Castillo, and more. Jessica Lopez Lyman, PhD and Ashley Fairbanks, White Earth Nation, moderate a talking circle with a diverse panel of artists, educators, and cultural community organizers. In a poignant conversation, we will get honest about dimensions of Indigeneity and cultural identity politics as it relates to our shared liberation. Co-presented with the Department of Chicano & Latino Studies at the University of Minnesota, Ce Tempoxcalli, Electric Machete Studios, and The Ordway.

Storytelling Bus Pick Up Schedule:

2:00pm Electric Machete Studios, 777 Smith Ave S, St Paul, MN 55107
2:30pm —PowWow Grounds, 1414 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404

2:40pm —Little Earth, 2495 18th Ave South, Minneapolis, MN 55404


The semi-annual all nations art exhibition series, Dimensions of Indigenous, originated with Los Nativos, a local Rhymesayers Chicano hip hop group, in 2003. Los Nativos, who hosts the Anti-Columbus Day concert, featured Indigenous artists of the North and South as a way for Chicano artists to carve out a space for the counter-narrative as Indigenous identified Chicano artists and for nation-bridging as a Native arts community in the Twin Cities. Innovative for it’s time, the art portion soon outgrew the small concert venue in the 7th Street Entry and Dimensions of Indigenous, the art exhibition series was birthed in 2005. With a mission of uniting Indigenous artists of the 4 directions around common themes of Decolonization, Identity, Resistance, & Survival, Dimensions of the Indigenous has featured artists from over 25 first nations and planted the seeds for cross-continental understanding as Indigenous peoples of the Americas. Today, as more and more work continues to emerge around this theme, Dimensions of Indigenous evolves into deeper and more specific themes around Cultural Identity Politics and the invisible barriers of colonial thinking that keep our communities divided.

READ: Lydia Howell's 2009 TC Daily Planet Article: Once again, Intermedia Arts explores "Dimensions of Indigenous" 


Gordon Coons’ heritage is Ojibwa from Lake Superior Chippewa Band of Wisconsin (from his father) and Ottawa from Michigan (from his mother). He is an enrolled member of the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribe of northern Wisconsin.  Originally from Wisconsin, Gordon is now living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Gordon is a self-taught artist, creating works in a variety of mediums including linoleum block prints, paintings, pen and ink, carvings in stone and wood. Although his artwork is more contemporary, each piece portrays a unique view of traditional native stories, incorporating strong family influences into the image. Gordon is an accomplished artist and has won numerous recognition awards, has work in permanent collections and in galleries throughout the country.

Rebekah Crisanta de Ybarra is an emerging interdisciplinary post-modern folk artist, curator, and civic artist working in the intersections of art, culture, community, and equity. Her practice includes visual art, music, dance, and performance with an emphasis on Latinx/Indigenous art methods. Her work lives in the Nepantla or in-between of Christianity and Indigeneity and explores iconography, propaganda, Decolonization, and Liberation Theology. 

Rebekah co-founded Electric Machete Studios, a Twin Cities Art and Music cooperative and gallery, where she serves as Artistic director. She writes and performs music as Lady Xok. She also works with Intermedia Arts as curator of the exhibition series Dimensions of Indigenous, uniting Indigenous people of the 4 directions, and with Creative CityMaking Minneapolis addressing systemic inequity. She is self-taught, family-taught, and studied studio art at St. Olaf College and Holtekilen Folkehøgskole in Oslo, Norway. Rebekah has over 10 years experience as a teaching artist in non-profits, churches, and schools sharing cultural storytelling and environmentally-just reuse found-object resquatche techniques. 

Ashley Fairbanks
is an Anishinaabe woman and citizen of the White Earth Nation. She operates as a socially-conscious designer and public artist. She works with a cohort of artists that do racial justice popular education and organizing. She seeks to use her design skills to activate people around issues ranging from police brutality to environmental justice. She has worked with the Energy Action Coalition, Indigenous Environmental Network and Honor the Earth to create campaigns around the KXL and Sandpiper pipelines and protecting our water from mining.

Jessica Lopez Lyman received her Ph.D. in Chicana and Chicano Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She studies Midwest Chicanx/Latinx culture and performance. Her manuscript, tentatively titled Midwest Mujeres: Chicana/Latina Performance examines racialized and gendered geographies of the Midwest through poetry, theater, hip hop, and visual art. Jessica has been published in Chicana/Latina Studies Journal, Label Me Latina/o, and Praxis: Gender and Cultural Critiques. Her other research interests include Chicana feminisms, decolonial studies, and gentrification. 

Jessica is a member of Electric Machete Studios, a Chicanx/Latinx/Indigenous art collective on St. Paul’s West Side. She is working on a multi-media performance piece, Trimmings, about her grandfather, an L.A. barber, and rituals of the home. Jessica has performed at First Avenue, Intermedia Arts, and Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana (MACLA) to name a few. She currently is a Visiting Professor at the University of Minnesota in the Department of Chicano and Latino Studies.


ABOUT ELECTRIC MACHETE STUDIOS www.electricmachete.com
Electric Machete Studios (EMS) is a Twin Cities collective of artists, musicians, dancers, stylists, producers, film makers, fashion designers, curators, teachers, and community organizers working alongside and with one another in the contemporary creative narrative of the Xican@/Latinx/Indigenous identity and artistic style.
Electric Machete Studios (EMS) is a Twin Cities art and music collective featuring contemporary and experimental work rooted in traditional Latinx and Indigenous art methods. In September 2015, Electric Machete Studios opened a flexible white box gallery in St. Paul. They believe that educating others on traditional art forms is critical for the survival of Xican@/Latinx/Indigenous histories and cultures. Intergenerational workshops, community art happenings (improvised performance events), and art exhibits serve as the foundation for highlighting social justice issues within our communities. Their work seeks to intervene in cultural displacement and racial inequities by offering alternative spaces, counter narratives, and community building opportunities for Xican@/Latinx/Indigenous people in the Twin Cities in solidarity with Indigenous people throughout the Americas.

Ce Tempoxcalli's mission is to build healthy communities by revitalizing Indigenous cultural knowledge. It is with a Mexica (Aztec) heart that Ce Tempoxcalli serves Indigenous peoples of the four directions through the program areas of Arts and Culture, Environmental Justice, Health and Wellness, and Community and Youth Development.


The vision for the Department of Chicano & Latino Studies at the University of Minnesota is inspired by words taken from El Plan de Santa Barbara, the founding document of a national movement to establish Chicano studies at the University: "We take as our credo what Jose Vasconcelos once said at a time of crisis and hope: ‘At this moment we do not come to work for the University, but to demand that the University work for our people.’" To that end, the Department of Chicano & Latino Studies strives to achieve their departmental mission by offering a rigorous undergraduate degree program that is complemented by extensive civic engagement, outreach efforts, and public programming activities.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund, and a grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation Minnesota

A Part of Intermedia Arts' Catalyst Series