Indigenous and Decolonial Art
Spurred on by the resurgence of indigenous movements, a profound inquiry into indigenous and decolonial practices has spread rapidly throughout the Americas. This resurgence has generated both institutional critique of the colonial roots of Western culture, as well as new art forms grounded in Indigenous sovereignty. The Indigenous and Decolonial Art Concentration, offered in Goddard’s Washington-based low-residency MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts Program, is one of the first academic initiatives in the United States designed to bring together Indigenous, settler, and forcibly displaced non-indigenous artists expressly to expand practices of Indigenous resurgence and solidarity practices.
Both Native and non-Native students alike in the concentration will be encouraged and guided to deepen the traditional practices grounded in their cultures, explore the many complex ways that living traditions intersect with contemporary art practices, hone their craft, and/or expand their audiences. The range of art practices supported by the concentration is as vast as the subject matter itself. The MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts is committed to expanding the collective of regional and national inter-tribal representatives—including local elders, wisdom and knowledge keepers—to contribute to the development of the Indigenous and Decolonial Art Concentration as members of the Concentration’s Circle of Advisors.
Cohorts enrolled in this concentration will participate in collaborative learning opportunities, experiential, textual, and multimedia based which may take the form of webinar-style group studies and field trips to museums, longhouses and other tribal centers in the region. Concentration students will engage with contemporary Indigenous thinkers, activists, artists, and academics who include or reference traditional knowledge practices and also are paving the way for continued integration of non-traditional forms with traditional frameworks in relevant, creative ways.
The core concentration faculty have longstanding presence in the college and bring to their work a host of professional skills and disciplinary areas. Fields of expertise include indigenous contemporary art practice and living traditions, decolonial aesthetics, migratory aesthetics, community engagement, among other areas. Much of the work and interests of the faculty is in keeping with the college’s activist and social justice mission. The faculty also have a range of international experience both in terms of work and research conducted in other areas of the world and in terms of their own lived experiences.
Jamie Figueroa (Taíno), Boricua by way of Ohio, and long time resident of northern New Mexico, explores identity, familial relationships, place, culture, and ancestry. A two time graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts, (BFA and MFA in Creative Writing), she publishes across genres including fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. Her collaborative work in the community facilitates engaging underrepresented voices and highlighting intergenerational, multi-racial and multi-ethnic, gender and sexuality difference and equality. At present, she facilitates modern myth making for personal and collective restoration and healing.
Devora Neumark (Interim Lead Faculty Coordinator) is an interdisciplinary artist-researcher, performance artist and community-engaged practitioner with extensive experience working with the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador’s Employment and Training Commission and the Montreal Urban Aboriginal Community Strategy Network.
Petra Kuppers is a community performance artist. Her work engages with space-based and decolonial knowing, predominantly through learning to live well from Anishinaabe traditions in her settler home, Michigan.
Laiwan is an interdisciplinary visual artist and writer who has been exploring the trajectory of neo-colonialism found in digital technologies, and countering these with explorations in embodiment, improvisation, poetics, and somatic ways of knowing.
JuPong Lin (Program Director), works at the edges of art and activism as a community performance artist and advocate for decolonial cultural reclamation and climate justice.
Twice a year, at the start of each semester, students attend an intensive eight-day residency at the College’s Port Townsend, Washington campus. Residencies are a rich time of exploration, connection, and planning.
The Port Townsend, Washington campus is the traditional home of the Hoh, Quileute, Jamestown S’klallam, Port Gamble S’klallam, Makah, Quinault, and Lower Elwha Klallam and is located at the edge of Puget Sound in Fort Worden State Park and nearby the town of Port Townsend.
Fort Worden is home to many arts organizations, including Centrum, which organizes popular jazz and blues music festivals, writers’ symposia and workshops, and artists’ residencies throughout the year, Madrona MindBody Institute, Copper Canyon Press, the Port Townsend Woodworking School, and a wealth of other arts and cultural organizations. Port Townsend has an international reputation for the arts, with its Writers conference, Film Festival, Playwrights festival, etc. Currently Fort Worden is being developed as a Center for Lifelong Learning.
At the start of the semester, students attend an intensive eight-day residency in Washington, followed by 16 weeks of independent work and self-reflection in close collaboration with a faculty advisor and course mentor. Goddard pioneered this format nearly a half century ago to meet the needs of adult students with professional, family, and other obligations seeking learning experiences grounded in the real-world.
Residencies are a time to explore, network, learn, witness, and share with peers, staff, and faculty. Students work with advisors and peers in close-knit advising groups to forge individualized study plans that describe their learning objectives for the semester.
Working closely with their faculty advisors, and supported by fellow learners, students identify areas of study, personal goals, relevant resources, and avenues to achieve these goals. Students also attend and are invited to help organize workshops, keynote addresses, celebrations and other events intended to stimulate, inspire, and challenge.
This low-residency model combines the breadth of a collaborative community with the focus of personalized learning, enhanced by insightful exchanges with a faculty advisor and course mentors.
In addition to engaging with the general MFAIA degree criteria, students pursuing the Indigenous and Decolonial Art Concentration will:
- Enroll in the MFAIA concentration for a minimum of four semesters.
- Build a significant body of creative work engaging a indigenous and/or decolonial praxis each semester.
- Develop 45-50 short critical annotations in dialogue with textual resources and live events; including bibliographic citations, short annotations, and evidence of critical engagement.
- Develop three critical essays (two 5-pages, one 20-pages) that critically explore the context of one’s practice.
- Participate in at least two collaborative learning opportunities (co-learning or other group studies) and a sequence of residency workshops.
- As the means of fulfilling the MFAIA portfolio requirement, concentrators must prepare a document that includes evidence of a significant body of creative work developed over a student’s time in the program; at least two extensive pieces of critical writing; and at least 20 annotations of the most significant resources used in one’s graduate study.