JusticeLA #JailBedDrop

On Christmas Eve 2017, JusticeLA and L.A. area artists collaborated to place over 50 jailbeds throughout LA County to further the conversation around the County's decision to invest $3.5 billion into expanding the worlds largest jail system.

 

Jenell Navarro (Cherokee), Gem Labarta (Navajo), and I worked with a small crew of badass Native women to create an Indigenous feminist #jailbed that addresses the disproportionate rate at which Native peoples have been, and continue to be, incarcerated in the United States.

The bunk was beaded in the four directions colors plus turquoise (and a white line of beads to make sure our spirits and thoughts always have a safe and sacred way out of the artwork) to provide medicine for the centuries of imprisonment of our people. The top bunk was dedicated to our incarcerated brothers & the bottom was dedicated to our incarcerated sisters (as well as our womyn relatives who identify as brothers and men who identify as sisters). We included abalone for our California Indian relatives and a shawl that wraps everyone in love and protection.  We made an accompanying zine that you can access here and dropped the bed in Downtown LA (at the Walt Disney Concert Hall) because Native peoples were sold as slaves on Temple Street well into the 1850s.  Native peoples have been under surveillance and suppression of the settler state for over 500 years.  Enough already.   Read an LA Times article about the project here.

And read a First American Art Magazine write-up about the project here.

 

SLAY Collaboration with Bethany Yellowtail

On 12.16.17, Bethany Yellowtail (Crow & Northern Cheyenne) released a SLAY hoodie and tote bag in commemoration of the third anniversary of the B.Yellowtail Indigenous clothing line.  It is such an honor to have collaborated with Yellowtail, and the crew of badass Indigenous women she works with.  Visit B.Yellowtail to purchase the hoodies and the tote and to experience SLAY.  

Noche de Ofrenda Altar 2017

In the fall of 2017, Self Help Graphics & Art invited me to create an altar for their Noche de Ofrenda at Grand Park.  I asked one of my WGSS classes at Cal State LA to collaborate with me, and it was one of the best teaching experiences I have had yet. Roughly 16 students and I designed, constructed, and installed a community altar that focused on historical trauma, resiliency, and healing. Additionally, we produced a zine and a Tumblr page: Legacies of Resistance and Resilience.

SLAY 2017

In March of 2017, I created the first versions of what would eventually become my SLAY print as a contribution to the Viva La Muxer Art Festival and Exhibition in celebration of International Women's Day.  A couple of months later, that same print became included in Honor the Earth's The Art of Indigenous Resistance Traveling Exhibition.  In the late summer of 2017, I worked with Self Help Graphics to produce my first limited edition fine art print, which you can buy here!  SHG also wrote an article and produced a short video about the piece that you can access here.   Disclosure: interviews are NOT one of my specialities.  Listen with kindness!

 

Collage Work

Radical womyn of color and other marginalized peoples know what it means to do the most with the least.  As a single mother of two and a full-time professor, collage is a particularly important artform to me because it requires very little.  Armed with a glue stick, a stack of junk mail, and recycled reads from the thrift store, I can create new worlds during the pockets of down time that I can carve out for myself.

 

More Collaborative Projects

Despite my conviction that education liberates, I also believe that, as an institution of the state, the ivory tower operationalizes the violence of settler colonialism, cisheteropatriarchy, capitalism, anti-blackness, etc.  One of the ways I have been able to navigate this space has been to find (and forge) kinship relations in the academy.  I thank the creator everyday that some off the most badass Native feminists I know have become my ride-or-dies. With intention, and despite resistance from the academy, we collaborate (intellectually, politically, artistically, and personally) because we know that our very survival depends on it.

Hand-cut Stencil Serigraphs

Although I have admired the work of Self Help Graphics & Art for at least a decade, I took my first screenprinting workshop through them in 2015. I was completely blown away by their commitment to art as a tool of community empowerment.  I invited them to visit one of my classes, I built my own portable press, and I began to hold screenprinting workshops of my own -- in my neighborhood, in my classroom, with my children's friends, etc.  Like collage, diy screenprinting with hand-cut, paper stencils requires relatively little resources and can be done on the fly and in community.      

 

Other Creative Projects

This is a small collection of miscellaneous projects I've worked on over the last couple of years.

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If we allow the pieces of our culture to lie scattered in the dust of history, trampled on by racism and grief, then yes, we are irreparably damaged.  But if we pick up the pieces and use them in new ways that honor their integrity, their colors, textures, stories -- then we do those pieces justice, no matter how sharp they are, no matter how much handling them slices our fingers and makes us bleed.   -- Deborah Miranda