Art & Indigeneity: A Conversation with Elizabeth James-Perry (Aquinnah Wampanoag) & Erin Genia (Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota)

Moderated by Lynne Allen, BU College of Fine Arts

Thursday, October 21 at 6 pm in the Conference Auditorium of the George Sherman Union – 775 Commonwealth Ave. 2nd, Floor.  Masks required.


Join Erin and Elizabeth as they discuss their work at BU this Fall,  Bear Map & Winter Dreams and Caution: Cultural Emergency, they will also discuss their larger body of work and experiences as Indigenous artists.

Internationally known artist Elizabeth James-Perry is enrolled with the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head -Aquinnah in Massachusetts. Elizabeth makes distinctively robust and textured wampum shell jewelry, porcupine quillwork, and northeastern twined textiles. She creates substantial heirloom quality adornment items reflecting her Algonquian diplomatic heritage.   In cultivating many of the plants used in natural dyes at her home in the Southcoast area of Massachusetts, her gardens serve to seed the suburbs with important Native species. The rest are wild harvested in a sustainable way.

Museums that have commissioned her artwork include Fruitlands Museum, Rhode Island School of Design,  New England Museum, Heritage Plantation and Gardens, Museum of Fine Arts, New Bedford Whaling Museum, Library Company of Philadelphia, Haffenraffer Museum and the Wallraf-Richartz in Cologne Germany. Her recording about King Philips Sash, linking the rare textile into the story of colonization of Wampanoag and Wabanaki territory will be in the upcoming Hoist/Acknowledge + Listen report as part of the State of Massachusetts initiative to replace the state seal. She regularly designs authentic Northeastern handwoven and painted wardrobe, most recently for Tashtego in Moby Dick at A.R.T., and for Manahatta at Yale Repertory Theatre, and Desperate Crossings.

Erin Genia, Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, is a multidisciplinary artist, educator and community organizer specializing in Indigenous arts and culture. Genia’s work in these areas is focused on amplifying the powerful presence of Indigenous Native American peoples on the occupied lands of America in the arts, sciences, and public realm to invoke an evolution of thought and practice that is aligned with the cycles of the natural world and the potential of humanity.

Genia’s artistic practice merges Dakota cultural imperatives, pure expression, and exploration of materiality with the conceptual. Erin is fluent in multiple modes of expression: sculpture, fiber, sound, performance, digital media, painting, printmaking, jewelry and ceramics. She has degrees from the MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology and The Evergreen State College. Erin maintains a traditional Dakota arts practice in canupa iŋyan/pipestone carving, and was awarded the 2021 Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Grant from Mass Cultural Council. She is an advocate for Native American cultural issues and has worked in the field of Indigenous arts and culture as a writer, scholar, administrator, and teacher. Her recent article, “Dislodging the Cultural Infrastructure of Indigenous Peoples’ Dispossession,” appeared in the winter 2021 issue of the Boston Art Review.

Lynne Allen is a Professor of Art at the School of Visual Arts in the College of Fine Arts at Boston University since 2006. She was Director of the School from 2006-2015 and Interim Dean of the College from 2015-2018. Previously she was a Professor of Art at Rutgers University (1989-2006). Allen’s work has been exhibited widely nationally and internationally and is included in collections at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art Library, the New York Public Library, New York; the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, among others.