(left to right)
Midnight at the Fireworks Stand
Acrylic paint, vintage and found wallpaper, wood panel
Lil Baby with the Brass Knuckles
Found wallpaper, acrylic paint, 22kt gold leaf, wood panel
Systems Built on Slavery Aren’t Meant to Last
Acrylic on canvas
Midnight at the Fireworks Stand, Lil Baby with the Brass Knuckles and Systems Built on Slavery Aren’t Meant to Last are a loosely intertwined series based on true stories.
Usually it is the most “resilient” or well-adjusted post-contact individuals that are lifted up in the eyes of mainstream society and Tribal organizations. In this series, I am expanding that focus to include a wider view of Indigenous communities. Communities that are very much still dealing with generational trauma inflicted upon them from western contact, while healing and relying on one another with the limited resources they were born into. This series bears witness to three stories of young life on the reservation.
The system of mass incarceration as we know it today was born out of slavery. After the Emancipation Proclamation, landowners turned to convict leasing camps to secure labor. This unsurprisingly led to higher and higher rates of incarceration among black and brown people, and a new racialized form of social control was created.
Today, Alaska Natives and Native Americans face disproportionate incarceration rates. Historical trauma, generational poverty and increased police presence in impoverished neighborhoods are some of the contributing factors. In 2015 in Alaska, the recidivism rate for Alaska Natives was 74%. Meaning that 74% of those released from prison would eventually return to the prison system. In 2022 in Washington State more than 45% of Native American prisoners return to prison within three years of their release.
As author Michelle Alexander so eloquently put it, those marked with a felony are “subjected to legalized discrimination in employment, housing, education, public benefits and jury service…We have not ended racial caste in America. We have merely redesigned it.”