White Hawk notes shift in visibility for Indigenous artists

Upon learning that Dyani White Hawk was named a 2023 MacArthur Fellow, Minnesota Public Radio’s Alex V. Cipolle met with the artist in her Northeast Minneapolis studio for a wide-ranging interview, about the award and its impact, the philosophies guiding White Hawk’s art, and the heightened visibility of Indigenous makers today. On that last topic, White Hawk notes:

We’re definitely seeing a shift. I will say, though, that that shift is in its infancy within my lifetime of practicing, within my lifetime of education. The fact that Jeffrey Gibson is the first Native artist to represent the U.S. [at the Venice Biennale] is a huge, hugely important step.

The fact that Indigenous artists have been in the last few Whitney biennials, those are early moves, you know. So, there is a wave of support that is happening now, but it is in its infancy. There have been patterns of support in the past that have come and gone. So my hope is and I feel like, this is different. I hope this is different.

How do we make sure that we’re advocating for the support and honoring of Native arts in a way that is meaningful, substantial and sustainable? It can’t just be a trend, it can’t just be like: This is what’s hot right now. Or everybody’s telling us that we need to include these people, so we’re going to do it for a minute and then we’ve done our work. I do believe though, especially with the younger generation, that they’re the folks that are going to be continuing to advocate for that value system.