This weekend and next week, Indian Country is animated with exhibits and experiences with powerful pop artists, an Anishinaabe extravaganza for all the senses, and a sweet Chicago-based celebration of singing, music-making,dancing and storytelling. 

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Native News Online’s event guide is here to hook you up with the hottest upcoming happenings.

The Indigenous Divine

Copy of Summertime KissSummertime KIss by Yakama artist Carmen Selam is featured in her solo exhibit The Indigenous Divine, on display at Oak Hollow Gallery in Yakima, WA through July 29. (Carmen Selam)WHEN: Through Friday, July 29 

WHERE: Oak Hollow Custom Framing and Gallery, 601 N. 1st St. Yakima, WA

Using her art world acquaintances as muses, Yakama pop artist Carmen Selam has assembled a divine exhibit with sleek nods to film noir style and shades of Sin City. 

“They’re all portraits of my friends who I am completely inspired by,” Selam told Native News Online. “It’s meant to highlight the beauty of contemporary Native people.”

Selam celebrates her friends in icon-ready, frame-filling portraits and photographs jam-packed with both popular and obscure cultural references.

For instance, Selam said the piece Rebel Rebel Reimagined is directly influenced by the moody 1961 film masterpiece The Exiles, about a lost generation of relocated southwest Natives fighting to find their place and purpose in wild and gritty Los Angeles. 

In the image, Selam’s filmmaker friend Echota Killsnight echoes the classic, slicked-back hair and leather jacket look of The Exiles’ inhabitants and the era it embodies. 

Summertime Kiss, a strong and sexy image adapted from a selfie of a friend and former co-worker, is also infused with Selam’s love of sleek and stylish cinema. 

“That one is especially influenced by Frank Miller’s movie Sin City. I really like to show the strong lines of a person,” Selam said. “I either shoot my models myself or  they send me selfies of some kind. I really want them to send me images where they feel the most powerful. In that image, she is definitely in her own element. She’s just taking up that space, I really want my models to fill the whole space. As Indigenous people, in this day and age, it’s not our job to shrink anymore. So in the images I create, it’s really important to feel that power. “

Shaun Beyale: Testament of Empowerment Demonstration and Lecture

NavajoWWNavajo Wonder Woman, created by Diné comic book artist Shaun Beyale. Beyale will deliver the presentation Testament of Empowerment Demonstration and Lecture on Saturday, July 16 at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque, NM. (Shaun Beyale)WHEN: Saturday, July 16, 12 p.m.

WHERE:  Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

Diné artist Shaun Beyale is a master of the comic universe.

When he’s not making magic with Marvel as a collaborator on the Indigenous Voices series, Beyale works on his own personal projects centered on the Indiigenous female superheroes he created himself: Navajo Wonder Woman and Ayla The Monster Slayer. 

On Saturday, Beyale, who was obsessed with comic books as a kid growing up on Navajo Nation, will bring his creativity, skills and experience to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center for a special presentation. 

“I'll be talking about my background, going to art school, my art career and my goals and aspirations as an artist,” Beyale told Natve News Online. “And I'll probably be doing a live drawing demo while I'm talking.” 

Beyale’s focus on strong female characters comes from both his family background and early connections with charismatic characters. 

“Growing up Ii was always just with my mom, my grandma, my aunts..mainly females,” he said. “And my favorite characters were female characters, like Storm and the Phoenix. They’re strong characters and they were the ones I gravitated towards.”

Working with a powerhouse like Marvel is a wonderful, door-opening opportunity, but Beyale also strongly encourages artists to create and take ownership of their own unique universes.

“It’s good to partner with companies like Disney and Marvel but it’s also good for people to represent themselves and own their work. In this day and age, with the power of the internet it's a lot more feasible and genuine when we can do it ourselves.  We don’t need a middle man,” Beyale said.  “That’s why I chose to create my own characters and I want to self-publish them.  Everything I do with the characters I create, I own it.”

The Sweetest Season: Indigenous Spoken Word and Song

WHEN: Monday, July 18, 7 p.m.

WHERE: Owen Theatre at the Goodman Theatre; 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago, IL; Event page

A rich and soulful mix of Indigenous music, dance and spoken word will fill Chicago’s Owen Theatre when The Mitchell Museum of the American Indian in Evanston, Illinois, presents The Sweetest Season.  

The one-night only celebration, curated by Laguna Pueblo poet and storyteller Vincent Romero,  features composers, choreographers, singers, drummers and dancers including  Jennifer Stevens (Oneida), Mark Jourdan (Oneida/Ho-Chunk), Mark LaRoque (Isleta Pueblo), Lanialoha Lee (Native Hawaiian), and Martiza Garcia (Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.)

Anishinaabe Art Festival 2022

WHEN:  Friday, July 22 and Saturday, July 23

WHERE: Sanford Event Center, Bemidji, MN; Event page

SampsonThe Sampson Bros. will perform at the Anishinaabe Art Festival, taking place Friday, July 22 and Saturday, July 23, in Bemidji, MN. (Melinda Jane Myers-Rodeck)

Attendees at this year’s Anishinaabe Art Festival just may get a taste of the hilarious hip hop hit Greasy Greasy Frybread.

Mvskoke hip hop artist Sten Joddi, who popularized the practically pornographic tribute to the fave comfort food as the outrageous rapper Punkin’ Lusty on Reservation Dogs, is just one of the fest’s tantalizing attractions.

The cultural feast for the ears, eyes, and taste buds also features performers including Hoop dance fusion artists the Sampson Brothers. and singer/songwriter Annie Humphrey, a fashion show, an art market offering birchbark crafts, sculpture, buckskin leatherwork, pottery and wearable art, traditional tasting tables brimming with buffalo, fish, wild rice and berry sauces, and demonstrations of beading, stone carving, quill work, and more. 

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About The Author
Tamara Ikenberg
Author: Tamara IkenbergEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Tamara Ikenberg is a contributing writer to Native News Online. She covers tribes throughout the southwest as well as Native arts, culture and entertainment. She can be reached at [email protected].