Honoring Indigenous People Day!

Today we come together to celebrate and commemorate the rich cultures and histories of the Indigenous American Peoples. My practice is hugely influenced by culture and history, and I’ve emphasized time and time again the necessity of connecting to them. This doesn’t just stop at our individual communities. Communities come together to shape society, and to have an uplifted, strong society we should be uplifting all the communities within it. It’s critical that we create space for ourselves to preserve and tell our stories, I’m blessed that I can do that through events like Muhammad School of Language and Martial Arts: Bilalian Night at the Museum.

Bilal Hassan guiding a tour through the archive during Muhammad School of Language and Martial Arts: Bilalian Night at the Museum,, Queens Museum, September 23rd, 2023

As part of my fellowship at Queens Museum I’ve had the amazing opportunity to build relationships with the curators at the museum, local artists and art institutions, and to learn more about Indigenous practices. Queens Museum has a program titled Indigenous Practice Studio where our museum highlights Indigenous practices and art from America. In September 2023 the museum held its first workshop of the series “Tactile conversations: No Word for Art in our Language” which featured conversation and artmaking activities by Denise Silva-Dennis (WeeTahMoe) and Jevijoe Vitug. Tactile conversations: No Word for Art in our Language is a workshop series that investigates practices of tactile making as ways of knowing and being in local Native and diasporic Indigenous practices. During each workshop of this series, two artists from different Indigenous backgrounds will be invited to lead concurrent drop-in artmaking activities where the materials and methods of making are in dialogue with one another. The public is invited to participate and experience a range of techniques for working by hand, while fostering informal conversation and exchange across Indigenous practices, languages, and forms of knowledge. The second workshop in the series will be held on November 18th, 2023, and will feature conversation and artmaking activities by Dennis Redmoon Darkeem and The Yakpo Collective. You can go to the Queens Museum website to RSVP and to learn more about the artists.

left: courtesy of Dennis Redmoon Darkeem; right: ink calligraphy workshop by The Yakpo Collective.

Another exciting thing I’ll be doing as part of the fellowship is taking a trip this week to CCS Bard to see Indian Theater: Native Performance, Art, and Self-Determination since 1969 with curators from the museum and the artist fellows. This exhibition is is the first large-scale one of its kind to center performance and theater as an origin point for the development of contemporary art by Native American, First Nations, Métis, Inuit, and Alaska Native artists, beginning with the role that Native artists have played in the self-determination era, sparked by the Occupation of Alcatraz by the Indians of All Tribes in 1969. Curated by Candice Hopkins (Carcross/Tagish First Nation), Forge Project’s Executive Director and CCS Bard’s Fellow in Indigenous Art History and Curatorial Studies, with curatorial research led by Amelia Russo.

Currently on view at CCS Bard: Cannupa Hanska Luger (Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lakota), Drone video still from Mirror Shield Project, 2016. Mirror shields and drone video, dimensions variable. Edition 3/30, 2 Artist’s Proofs. Photo: Rory Wakemup, Oceti Sakowin camp, Standing Rock, North Dakota, 2016. Forge Project Collection, traditional lands of the Muh-he-con-ne-ok.

I highly recommend you check out these events, and to continue celebrating and learning about the American Indigenous communities.