In partnership with Indigo Arts Alliance

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens has partnered with Indigo Arts Alliance (IAA) to present a multi-year project that centers Black/Brown/Indigenous relationships with the land. This partnership, now in its second year, presents “Deconstructing the Boundaries: The Land Fights Back,” a symposium and public art commission. Together, we have commissioned two indigenous artists/IAA July Artists in Residence, Anna Tsouhlarakis and Shane Perley-Dutcher, to create a permanent public art piece that amplifies Indigenous wisdom, artistry, and presence.

The programmatic series launched with an all day public symposia in 2023, Deconstructing the Boundaries: A Future of Land & Food Resilience. The symposium for 2024 expands on the questions, points of connection, and learning provoked in the first symposium.

Deconstructing The Boundaries: The Land Fights Back

Our Northeastern United States indigenous citizens are the Maliseet, Micmac, Penobscot, and Passamaquoddy, collectively make up the Wabanaki Confederacy. They are also known as “People of the Dawnland.” As members of a global community, we are people of the land. With the growing climate crisis and its reverberations in our societies, we bear witness to how the land fights back. Indigo Arts Alliance and Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens commissioned the work of Anna Tsouhlarakis, Shane Perley-Dutcher, Daniel Minter and Arisa White to envision and create a permanent public art piece that amplifies Indigenous wisdom, artistry, and presence.

This year’s 2024 symposium and public art commissions, will focus on environmental justice in urban and rural spaces and why it is critical that Black and Brown experiences and knowledge be centered. The work will unpack methods of reparative justice and challenge systems in place today. Witnessing through the lens of scholars, artists, historians and members of our community, we will honor our collective wisdom and forge new ways to be in harmony with the land known as Maine and beyond. Participants will have an opportunity to learn actionable steps that they can take to help create a better world.

Deconstructing the Boundaries: The Land Fights Back
Saturday, July 20th, 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m.

SCHEDULE

10–11:30 a.m.: Morning Panel
Themes: Environmental justice in urban and rural spaces and why BIPOC experiences must be centered.

12–1 p.m.: Lunch (meal included in registration)

1–2:30 p.m.: Artist Talk
IAA Artists-in-Residence and commissioned artists, Shane Perley-Dutch and Anna Tsouhlarakis, present their work.

2:30–4:30 p.m.: Art Activations
These art sessions allow participants to dive deeper.

5–5:30 p.m.: Closing Remarks

For our team of artists, scholars and activists who are centered on inquiries of nourishment and of repair, examination of these normative cultural practices will strive to address these key questions:

  1. How do we evolve personal, community, and institutional relationships with land ownership – including specifically with botanical gardens, land trusts, and conservancies – in ways that forge generative relationships with landscape, land use, foodways, and agricultural practices, including very possibly relationships that result in the deconstruction of these same land-holding institutions?
  2. How do we make visible and begin to heal the deep disease that roots itself in dominant narratives and dominant cultural spaces regarding how we embody?
  3. How do we acknowledge heretofore ignored or rejected technologies generated by African and First Nations descendant people’s existence outside of settler colonial paradigms?

2024 Commissioned Artists

 

Shane Perley-Dutcher

Shane Perley-Dutcher is a Wolastoq mixed media artist from the Neqotkuk Wolasqiyik (Tobique First Nation) in New Brunswick. He trained at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, earning a Diploma in Natives Art Studies and Jewellery Manufacturing. Shane draws his design inspiration from Wolastoqiyik traditional knowledge and contemporary aesthetics. Shane uses natural materials such as birch, cedar, spruce, ash, copper, silver, gold and platinum to create unique lines of jewelry and one-of-a-kind sculptures. Shane gathers his traditional materials for his art because it maintains his connection to the land, and entails an important part of his creative journey.

Anna Tsouhlarakis

Anna Tsouhlarakis works in sculpture, installation, video, and performance. She received her BA from Dartmouth College with degrees in Native American Studies and Studio Art. She went on to receive her MFA from Yale University in Sculpture. She is an enrolled citizen of the Navajo Nation and of Muscogee Creek and Greek descent. Her work has been part of national and international exhibitions at venues such as Rush Arts in New York, the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Crystal Bridges Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, and the National Portrait Gallery. Tsouhlarakis has participated in various art residencies including Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Yaddo, and was the Andrew W. Mellon Artist-in-Residence at Colorado College for the 2019-2020 academic year. She was awarded a Creative Capital Grant in 2021 and recently received a 2022 Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award.

In Partnership With

Founded in 2018, Indigo Arts Alliance (IAA) is a Portland, ME-based, Black-led organization dedicated to professional development and amplification of Black and Brown thought-leadership, vision, and creative practice. As an organization of social practice artists, scholars, and activists, it seeks to strengthen multiracial democracy by cultivating and celebrating art as a key resource for healthy communities, connecting global and local Black and Brown artists, providing an affirming environment for the creation of artwork across disciplines, and promoting engagement through participatory events that bring artists’ and activists’ work into public conversation on social justice, culture, and community. IAA is the only Black-led, established arts incubator in northern New England. That being the case, they fill a critically important gap in representation lacking in other regional arts and cultural institutions.