Tomahawk Greyeyes Artist Statement
Experiencing the perpetual and lingering threats from colonial conquests directly influences why I integrate art with activism. I believe in the power that art can play in advocacy by raising awareness and progressively challenging the status quo.
In my conversation with Akonadi staff about this project, we talked about intersectionality and its challenges. I thought about my time at Standing Rock and how many Bay Area folks went to support the tribes and water protectors. Black Lives Matter, Anti Police-Terror Project, veterans, and peoples of many religions and backgrounds found themselves in the same place for the same cause. I felt profound solidarity and sacrifice being there.
I wanted to create a piece that uses water as a way to describe our interconnectedness and potential for solidarity. Martin Luther King’s quote,
“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream” inspired me to rework the message.
“May Solidarity Fall on Everyone like Rain and Racial Justice flow like a Raging River.”
I decided to choose mostly women for the image, as they’re closer to water than men. Women carry water during pregnancy. Our thoughts and feelings start in that water as we move between the spirit world. Giving birth is the release of that water. This wisdom comes from native grandmothers. I included a few portraits of my friends who exemplify activist qualities and commitment for the protection of the sacred. We recognize that all water is sentient. When acknowledged, blessed and sung to, the spirit becomes medicine. The rainbow is loaded with symbolism that resonates with the Bay Area. I included flowers that are indigenous to hint at this region’s natural beauty.
Through this poster, I’m advocating for the creation of a cultivated environment of communication, diversity, and acknowledgment of place and people. My goal is to create cultural work that amplifies culture and advances a dialogue about racial justice so that it materializes on a larger scale. Within the process of decolonization theory, the colonized start to dream again. We work to recover ourselves and to inspire action in favor of a more just and sustainable world.