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High Visibility Virtual Artist Talk
Artists as Activists with Shanai Matteson and Cannupa Hanska Luger
Shanai Matteson: Artist and violinist Sara Pajunen’s words above lead us into the interlocking presences of land, memory, and community that anchor her Mine Songs project and her contribution to the Mine/Not Mine collaboration with Shanai Matteson. In recent years, both of these artists have returned to the Iron Range to contemplate the entwined legacies of resource extraction and community survival.
In Matteson’s Mine/Not Mine contribution, an extension of her Overburden/Overlook creative research and engagement practice, Matteson gathered fabric and fiber from women in her community to create relief prints that she stitches together to create story quilts, bandanas, or flags. This fabric is also dyed with overburden, the waste rock extracted and discarded through the mining process.
The intimate, generational act of stitching becomes a foundation for considering the relationships between the extractive practices on the Iron Range and the damage they have inflicted on the peoples and communities whose lives support these industries. The sound piece Pajunen contributes here is sourced from Matteson’s dying, printing, and sewing of this fabric, and is accompanied by Matteson’s writing and voice, recorded inside a mine shovel at the Hull Rust overlook in Hibbing, Minnesota.
Cannupa Hanska Luger: Even in an era where many artists are stretching across disciplines, the radical, futuristic, and compassionate work of Cannupa Hanska Luger exists in its own jet stream, leaping between practices and stitching together multi-dimensional understandings of contemporary Indigeneity. Though his work often foregrounds large-scale installations that can include a wide range of elements – ceramics, video, sound, fiber, steel, and repurposed materials – a central force of Luger’s practice combines performance with audience and community participation, drastically expanding the web of political and human impacts within a given piece.
A Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, and Lakota artist raised on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota, his work first gained widespread attention in 2016 when, while on a residency at the Institute of American Indian Arts, he posted an instructional video for the making of mirror shields for the defense of water protectors in the midst of the Dakota Access Pipeline and their private security teams’ incursion into sovereign Native land at Standing Rock. As the video, and his MIRROR SHIELD project, gained support and visibility from individuals across the country looking to provide resources, the mirror shields themselves took on a variety of uses in the Oceti Sakowin Camp – from protective devices, to building materials, to even sleds for children.