Dear Cultural Survival Community,
Art carries power: the power to make people feel, to transcend boundaries, and to contribute to narrative shifts. Art can also reflect the creator’s times, surroundings, and cultural values, while connecting us to the past, present, and future. Artists hold important roles in our societies by keeping, making, and transforming meaning. They help to shape our communities and societies through their imaginations and self-determined expressions.
This issue of the CSQ is dedicated to Indigenous artists who are using art as a medium to combat the ongoing challenges of racist and colonialist erasure, cultural appropriation, and exploitation. Through their work, Indigenous artists are striving to break down barriers and debunk racist stereotypes while showcasing Indigenous brilliance. For centuries, colonization, globalization, and capitalism have interrupted Indigenous Peoples’ cultural continuity as well as the intergenerational transmission of knowledge and cultural practice of the arts. Through storytelling and performing arts, Indigenous artists are reclaiming narratives and creating a resurgence of Indigenous knowledge.
In line with our mission and vision, Cultural Survival has long engaged in support of Indigenous artistic expression through folk art, music, dance, craftsmanship, and theater. When we gathered to reassess our organizational strategy in 2020, we renewed our commitment to Indigenous artistic expression through culture, identifying it as one of the major themes of our work in our Strategic Framework.
We share stories of Indigenous artists who are breaking down stale colonial narratives around what art is—who holds the power to define it, who gives it value, and what role it can play in our society. For too long, Indigenous art has been relegated in the mainstream eye to tourist souvenirs, downgraded as folk art, craft, utilitarian, or worse, seen as authentic only in its historical form.
We are inspired by the artists that form the Shipibo Conibo Center in Harlem, NY, who are merging Indigenous traditions with contemporary art and rejecting the false siloing of art from purpose. Instead, these Shipibo artists—including women like Sara Flores, featured on our cover, who lead in the matrilineal tradition of women as artists—are adamant that the “work of art and the work of environmental activism . . . towards Indigenous sovereignty cannot be separated; they must move forward on the same path.”
With this issue, we are also excited to announce the long anticipated return of our Cultural Survival Bazaars, a beloved tradition in the New England area since 1975, for the first time since the pandemic. We invite you to join us at the Prudential Center in Boston December 14–17, 2023. The Bazaars are a series of cultural festivals providing Indigenous artists, cooperatives, and their representatives from around the world the opportunity to sell their work directly to the public in the Northeast U.S. while allowing the general public to learn about and provide direct financial support to Indigenous art and artists.
In addition to the opportunity to purchase art directly from Indigenous makers, our Bazaars offer cultural performances and presentations including live music, storytelling, artmaking demonstrations, and the chance to talk directly with artists and community advocates. We invite you to celebrate the resilience of the Indigenous artists through the pandemic by supporting their work.
Everything we do is made possible with your support. Thank you for investing in Indigenous-led solutions and leadership.
Galina Angarova (Buryat)