» Catalyst Series
Skin(s) | Exhibition
Rosy Simas Danse and Intermedia Arts presents
Visual Art Exhibition

Skin(s) is an exhibition of artworks by Minnesotans who express multi-dimensional identities from Dakota, Ojibwe, Ponca, Lakota, Navajo, and other indigenous nations. Part of a larger project including dance, film, and a web media project, the Skin(s) exhibition features the work of Hilary Abe, Carolyn Lee Anderson, James Autio, Julie Buffalohead, Andrea Carlson, Elizabeth Day, Aza Erdrich, Marlena Myles, Jonathan Thunder, Maggie Thompson, Rory Wakemup, Dyani White Hawk, and Marne Zafar, and is curated by Heid E. Erdrich. These paintings, prints, sculptures, and films reveal the power and diversity of urban Native artists.


Hilary Abe is a citizen of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation of Fort Berthold, North Dakota. At Dartmouth College he majored in Native American Studies with a concentration in Film Studies. Hilary recently moved to the Twin Cities. For the past few years, he has been filming, photographing, and assisting with the building of earth lodges, a traditional housing and ceremonial structure, in North Dakota.

Carolyn Lee Anderson is a Minnesota-­based artist of Irish, Scottish, French and Navajo descent. She began her artistic career as a painter, but textiles have become an increasingly important aspect of her work. Carolyn is a descendant of a long line of Navajo weavers, and her grandmother began teaching her this art form in 2003. Carolyn's current work combines paintings, fabric and Navajo weavings. These materials inspire reflection on the influence of the lives of her ancestors, her family members and the way that her perceptions are shaped by the people in her life, the environment she inhabits, and the events that make significant impressions on human consciousness. Carolyn has exhibited at many venues in the Minneapolis area including All My Relations Gallery, the Katherine E. Nash Gallery and the Bockley Gallery. She has been the recipient of artist grants including the National Native Creative Development Grant from the Longhouse at the Evergreen State College, the Minnesota State Arts Board Cultural Community Partnership Grant and scholarships to study Navajo weaving through the Sievers School for Fiber Arts and the Split Rock Arts Program.

James D. Autio is a poet and visual artist in Minneapolis. James works in acrylics, charcoal and pencil, printmaking, digital video and photography, and Ojibwe arts. James’ writing has appeared in many literary journals, ‘zines and anthologies. His art has been shown at UW- Superior, UW-Green Bay, Minnetonka Center for the Arts, Marshall Area Fine Arts Council, Owa’mni Falling Water Festival, MN State Fair, and in numerous journals, as well as on several book covers. James is currently completing a Master of Arts in Education at Hamline University while also writing one full year of poem-a-day and painting a series of canvases featuring a crow-headed girl. James is an enrolled member of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe.

Julie Buffalohead, born in 1972 is an enrolled member of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 1995 and her Master of Fine Arts from Cornell University in 2001. Buffalohead is a recipient of the McKnight Foundation Fellowship for Visual Arts, a Jerome Foundation Travel and Study Grant, and the Fellowship for Visual Artists from the Minnesota State Arts Board.

Buffalohead lives and works in St. Paul. She has exhibited both locally and nationally. She has been in group exhibitions at the Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indian and Western Art , Indianapolis, the Carl N. Gorman Museum in Davis, California, The Plains Art Museum, Fargo, and Artfit Exhibition Space in Phoenix, among others. She has had solo exhibitions at Carleton University in Northfield Minnesota, St. Thomas University, St. Paul, St. Johns University, St. Cloud, Minnesota, and the Bockley Gallery, Minneapolis. Buffalohead's work has focused thematically upon describing Indian cultural experience through personal metaphor and narrative. In a July, 2003 article of Cornell Alumni magazine, she is quoted as saying "My imagery is so personal it's hard to think about the viewer, but I try to be provocative. I use stereotypes because Indians didn't have a hand in creating them. It's my way of saying 'This is not who we are. This is your invention'". Just as frequently as the work has been evocative of animals, anthropomorphism and nature, it has been a critique of the simulacrum of the Old West, and of the prejudicial commercialization of Native culture. The work juxtaposes (constantly evolving) representations of animal spirit and Coyote motifs. Buffalohead has employed an eclectic palette of traditional and natural materials, such as birch bark, porcupine quills, and rawhide. She has blurred the boundary between drawing, illustration, painting, bookmaking, sculpture and installation formats.

Andrea Carlson (born 1979) currently resides in Chicago, Illinois. In 2005 Carlson received an MFA from the Minneapolis College of Art & Design. Her work has gained critical attention for its rigorous draftsmanship and cultural commentary.

Carlson's first solo exhibition was presented by Soo Visual Art in 2006. She was awarded a 2007-2008 McKnight/MCAD artist fellowship and her work has received wide attention with reviews in The Star Tribune, Newsweek and Art Papers. Carlson has exhibited at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (2007), October Gallery, London (2007), The Power Plant, Toronto (2011) and Plug In Institute for Contemporary Art in Winnipeg (2015).

From 2009-2011 Carlson created 20 large-scale painted drawings on paper as part of her VORE works. These pieces exhibited at the Plains Art Museum, Fargo (2010) and the Bockley Gallery in 2011. Part of this series exhibited in a solo show at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian at the George Gustav Heye Center, New York (2009–2010) and for the Venice Biennale at the University of Ca' Foscari, Venice (2009).

Elizabeth Day (producer, director, writer) Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe is a filmmaker from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Born on the Leech Lake Reservation and raised in the Twin Cities area, Day blends her Native American heritage with her urban upbringing to create films that employ traditional Ojibwe-style storytelling while using contemporary filmmaking techniques. Her work often explores the tension between traditional Native teachings and the life of a modern, urban Indian.

A primary motivation for Day is recording and capturing the quickly fading pastimes of Ojibwe culture, an important and integral piece of Minnesota’s history. Through the medium of film, she examines a broad swath of Native history, from the rich Ojibwe tradition of storytelling to the painful history of government-enforced boarding schools to the modern-day identity issues faced by Native families.

Aza Erdrich is a fifth-generation Turtle Mountain Ojibwe artist and grew up in Minneapolis. She graduated from Dartmouth College in 2012 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Studio Art, minoring in Native American Studies. She has exhibited her work in group exhibits at the Bockley Gallery and Two Rivers Gallery in Minneapolis; Flagstaff Center for the Arts in Flagstaff, AZ; Red Door Gallery in Wahpeton, ND; Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts in Anoka, MN and the Jaffe-Friede Gallery in Hanover, NH.  She recently had her first solo exhibition, Synthesis: Paintings by Aza Erdrich at All My Relations Arts in Minneapolis. Her artwork and design has been featured as illustration and cover art for a number of publications including: Daga Anishinaabemodaa by Pebaamibines Dennis Jones; Original Local by Heid E Erdrich; The Round House by Louise Erdrich as well as other books by the author. You can learn more about Aza Erdrich’s artwork at Azaerdrich.com

Heid E. Erdrich is a collaborative artist and the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Cell Traffic from University of Arizona Press. Her curatorial work includes over a dozen exhibits in Minnesota. Heid’s poem films have been selected for screening at festivals internationally including ImagineNative, Co- Kisser, Native Film Festival, Vision Maker, and at the Santa Fe Indian Market film festival, Class-X. Her collaborative poem videos have won a Judges Award, a Best of Fest, and a Best Experimental Short awards in 2014 and 2015. Heid grew up in Wahpeton, North Dakota and is Ojibwe enrolled at Turtle Mountain. She teaches the MFA Creative Writing program of Augsburg College.

Marlena Myles (Spirit Lake Dakota) began her art journey as traditional artist mostly doing graphite portraits, but after seeing the creative uses of digital vectors, she was inspired to modernize her methods and now is constantly finding new methods to expand the idea of where Native American art can be displayed. She is a self-taught artist who is gaining recognition in the region. Her work has been shown at All My Relations Gallery, Red Cloud Heritage Center, and elsewhere in the region.

Rosy Simas is an enrolled Seneca from the Heron clan. She is a Minneapolis based choreographer, engaged in the dance field as a performer, teacher, curator, advocate and mentor to other Native artists and artists of color. For more than 20 years she has created work dealing with a wide range of political, social and cultural subject matter from a Native feminist perspective. Simas is 2016 McKnight Choreography fellow, 2016 First Peoples Fund Artist in Business Leadership fellow, a 2015 Guggenheim fellow, and a 2013 Native Arts and Cultures Foundation fellow. Her work is supported nationally by NEFA National Dance Project (2014, 2016), National Performance Network (2015), and regionally by the Minnesota State Arts Board (2014, 2016) and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council (2014). Her most recent work, We Wait In The Darkness, has toured to 14 cities and won a 2014 Sage Award and a 2014 City Pages Artist of the Year citation.

Maggie Thompson (Fond du Lac Ojibwe) was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Textiles at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in 2013. As a textile artist and designer she derives her inspiration from the history of her Ojibwe heritage, exploring family history as well as themes and subject matter of the broader Native American experience. Thompson’s work calls attention to its materiality pushing the viewer’s traditional understanding of textiles. She explores materials in her work by incorporating multimedia elements such as photographs, beer caps and 3D-printed objects. Thompson is also an emerging curator of contemporary Native art at Two Rivers Gallery and runs a small knitwear business called Makwa Studio.

Jonathan Thunder (Red Lake Ojibwe) is a painter and digital media artist currently residing in Duluth, Minnesota. He has attended the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe and received a Bachelor's Degree in Visual Effects and Motion Graphics from the Art Institutes International Minnesota. His work has been featured in many state, regional, and national exhibitions, as well as in local and international publications.

Thunder has won several awards in SWAIA's Annual Class 'X' Moving Images competition for his animation work on multiple projects.

Jonathan's paintings explore personal themes of identity, life transitions, internal conflict, and self-transformation. He depicts expressive characters whose emotions and thoughts manifest viscerally in their physical form. The bodies of his subjects often appear fragmented, disfigured, animalistic, or partially obscured. They portray the prison of old patterns and the desire to fluidly overcome them. His art acts as the scrapbook recording an evolving identity. Through his subjects, Jonathan can exaggerate the villians and heroes that make up his self-image. A strong theme focuses on the ability of the self to break away from "what it has been programmed to do." His work questions the cost of conformity, examines moral responsibility, and just like the character in "A Chant at Day's End," believes in art's exquisite ability to have "something to show" for the human journey.

Rory Wakemup is a Master of Fine Arts graduate from the University of Wisconsin- Madison, 2015. He received his Master of Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2014. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Institute of American Indian Arts Santa Fe New Mexico in 2010.

Wakemup is a multidisciplinary artist whose work turns the script of cultural appropriation on its head.  He has morphed his experience in Indian ceremonies with his studio art practice and has become a conduit between conceptual ideas and the materials at hand. Wakemup enjoys playing with the grey areas of what is appropriate in today’s society. He was a co-founder of the Humble Experiment, Independent Student Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico and was on a panel for Native Underground, sponsored by the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture.

Most recently Wakemup was awarded the “Chazen Museum Prize” over 80 other applicants in the UW Madison MFA program for his MFA show “Kill the Idiot Save the Fan” and was featured on Wisconsin Public Television's “Wisconsin Life” and a front page Article on the “Sundays Best” section of the Wisconsin State Journal.

Rory Erler Wakemup Is currently the director of the All My Relations Arts gallery, community arts gallery housed in the Native American Community Development Institute. Wakemup is presently producing a performance with with his new community arts non-profit, "Wakemup Productions". This collaboration effort involves several local artists, youth participants and their family, multiple neighborhood organizations and last but not least, our hometown heroes, The "1491’s”.

Dyani White Hawk (Sicangu Lakota) was born in Madison, Wisconsin and resides in St. Paul, Minnesota. She received a MFA in painting from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and BFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts. Her painting earned the “Best of Classification” award at the 2011 Santa Fe Indian Art Market and a First Place in painting at the 2011 Northern Plains Indian Art Market.

White Hawk’s exactingly executed paintings often combine the Lakota art of quill work with strong lines that echo blanket and moccasin patterns. Often the scale of her work, large canvases as well as small or “extreme close-ups”, creates an interesting confusion between landscape and object or between pattern and figure. Her care in using her abstraction to bring American Indian tradition into a dynamic contemporary context reveals a powerful intellect and a remarkably original artist.

“As a woman of Lakota and European ancestry my life experiences have been a continual negotiation of both Western and Indigenous educations, value systems, and worldviews. Through the amalgamation of symbols and motifs derivative of both Lakota and Western abstraction, my artwork examines, dissects, and patches back together pieces of each in a means to provide an honest representation of self and culture.” -- Dyani White Hawk

Dyani White Hawk has exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, the Indian Arts and Culture Museum, the Legends Santa Fe, and Shiprock Santa Fe galleries, Santa Fe NM. Her artwork has been collected by the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, the Tweed Museum 

Marne Zafar is a Native New Yorker., one that is a blending of Lenape, Piegan, African-American, and Jewish cultures. Growing up in Harlem and lower Manhattan and then after college, having on the edge of “The Village" (Greenwich Village), she was surrounded by people of many ethnicities, creeds and cultures; jazz clubs, readings, art collectives, theatre were constants and the many gatherings of diverse people kept her art evolving each year.

A fine artist and graphic designer she graduated from the College of Architecture, Art & Planning at Cornell University. As a collage-lithographer, her work has been acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Queens Museum, and the Portland Museum of Art, and is in private collections.

A poet, she is a member of the TGIFrybread Native Writers group based at The Loft in, Minneapolis.  

“Lithography and collage offer a "time capsule" feeling for me. Pastels and charcoal allow a quickness and punch to feelings about a place or person. Together, they push, pull and combine to give one pause and evoke a thoughtfulness of remembrances. These lithograph collages represent work done at the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop in New York ( Mr. Blackburn was the first master printer at Universal Limited Art Editions).

Marne loves living life with a smile and much laughter, enjoying her writing, art, beading, quilting, her cat and visiting her family and friends.

The presentation of Skin(s) was made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Skin(s) is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation Fund Project co-commissioned by Intermedia Arts in partnership with La Peña Cultural Center,  Eastside Arts Alliance, Rosy Simas Danse, and NPN. The Creation Fund is supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Ford Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts (a federal agency). For more information: www.npnweb.org.

Rosy Simas is a 2015 Guggenheim Creative Arts Fellowship. Simas is also a fiscal year 2016 recipient of an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. Skin(s) is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a Minnesota State legislature; and by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.  


A Part of Intermedia Arts' Catalyst Series