CONGRATULATIONS NOVEMBER GRANT RECIPIENT, JEREMY DENNIS!
Click here to learn about nonprofit November grant winner, DragonFLY.
Congratulations to Jeremy on a successful grant application!
The following are excerpts from his grant application:
My photography explores indigenous identity, cultural assimilation, and the ancestral traditional practices of my tribe, the Shinnecock Indian Nation. Though science has solved many questions about natural phenomena, questions of identity are more abstract, the answers more nuanced. My work is a means of examining my identity and the identity of my community, specifically the unique experience of living on a sovereign Indian reservation and the problems we face.
Digital photography lets me create cinematic images. Nowhere have indigenous people been more poorly misrepresented than in American movies. My images question and disrupt the post-colonial narrative that dominates in film and media and results in damaging stereotypes, such as the "noble savage" depictions in Disney's Pocahontas. As racial divisions and tensions reach a nationwide fever pitch, it's more important to me than ever to offer a complex and compelling representation of indigenous people. I like making use of the cinema's tools, the same ones directors have always turned against us (curiously familiar representations, clothing that makes a statement, pleasing lighting), to create conversations about uncomfortable aspects of post-colonialism.
By looking to the past, I trace issues that plague indigenous communities back to their source. For example, research for my ongoing project "On This Site" entailed studying archaeological and anthropological records, oral stories, and newspaper archives. The resulting landscape photography honors Shinnecock's 10,000-plus years' presence in Long Island, New York. Working on that collection has left me with a better understanding of how centuries of treaties, land grabs, and colonialist efforts to white-wash indigenous communities have led to our resilience, our ways of interacting with our environment, and the constant struggle to maintain our autonomy.
Despite four hundred years of colonization, we remain anchored to our land by our ancient stories. The indigenous mythology that influences my photography grants me access to the minds of my ancestors, including the value they placed on our sacred lands. By outfitting and arranging models to depict those myths, I strive to continue my ancestors' tradition of storytelling and showcase the sanctity of our land, elevating its worth beyond a prize for the highest bidder.
The IACA grant funds will assist in airfare and travel to a confirmed two-month artist residency in Santa Fe, New Mexico. During my two months in Santa Fe, I will work on a project titled 'Stories' based on indigenous oral stories and legends. The grant fund would be an enormous contribution to make this travel possible.
I am applying to this grant as an emerging artist who is striving to have a full-time visual artist career. My community, the Shinnecock Indian Reservation, is a low-income reservation in the Hamptons of Eastern Long Island, New York, but I believe we have much to contribute culturally and artistically.