Indigenous Futurisms Fest comes to Tacoma this June

As a showcase to Indigenous science fiction authors, scholars, and artists, ALMA in Downtown Tacoma will host the Indigenous Futurisms Festival Northwest (IFFNW) Friday and Saturday, June 9-10. While admission is free and open to all, registration is encouraged.

IFFNW will showcase award-winning First Nations and First American scholars, artists and other Native creators from the Pacific Northwest and beyond. There will be an interactive programming highlighting musicians, painters, instruction on making tabletop role playing games (TTRPG), podcasts, discussions with elders, children’s activities and many live performances.

“IFFNW will help dispel contemporary misrepresentations of who they are today. We are thrilled to collaborate with ALMA as a safe and welcoming gathering spot that channels, celebrates, and seeks to nourish the soul of this land, the people on it, the people from it, and those just passing through.”

Kristin Gentry (Choctaw), says Native Realities’ Director of Community Engagement and Outreach

What is Indigenous Futurism? Dr. Grace Dillon, editor of Walking the Clouds, and Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction, coined the term to describe literature, comics, art, fashion, and other media that seek a way forward through fantastical and speculative imaginings that hold close to values of relationship, integrity, interconnection, and balance. Dillon chose the term in homage to Afrofuturism, which is an “examination of how Black culture intersects with technology and the African diaspora.”

Examples of other Indigenous Futurists works include Love After the End: An Anthology of Two-Spirited and Indigiqueer Speculative Fiction, and The Marrow Thieves.

The Facebook event page for IFFNW can be found here.

Shop for gothy gifts at Full Moon Flea Market

Nestled in Antique row is shopping for the goth-inclined: Full Moon Flea Market – a self-proclaimed purveyor of “Grim Gifts and Goods: Dark Arts and Antiques from the Pacific Northwest.”

After a few years of being housed within the Sanford and Son building they moved to a storefront last year. They feature over the work of over 65 local artists – of spooky, macabre, horror, punk, LGBT, and witchy works. You can also everything from jewelry to pins and buttons, stickers, patches, books and zines, cards, art prints, and so much more.

Due to some health issues the physical storefront will be taking a hiatus for some months but they will be returning soon after. Their last in-store day will be May 28th, after which they will be doing all their business through their websitePlease visit! Follow them on Instagram and Facebook. They will be doing a product refresh with new works from a variety of their awesome artists! Fullmoonfleamarket.com

City of Tacoma grants approval for outside investor to pave over Tacoma’s Aquifer

Why did this happen, what conditions were required to be met, who is this company, and can the community appeal this decision? 

On Earth Day, 2023, the City of Tacoma gave conditional approval to Bridge International to build the largest warehouse complex in the world. Taking up 50 football fields the project would involve among numerous other environmental impacts, including paving over 150 acres of South Tacoma’s aquifer, which is the city’s emergency backup water supply in the event of droughts or a natural disaster like an earthquake or volcanic eruption cutting access to the main pipeline from the Green River.

Why did this happen?

Continue reading “City of Tacoma grants approval for outside investor to pave over Tacoma’s Aquifer”

Tinkertopia – Tacoma’s Creative Reuse Center

If you’re in Downtown Tacoma visiting either the University of Washington in Tacoma, the local TAM (Tacoma Art Museum), Museum of Glass, or Washington State History Museum – just across the street on Pacific Ave you HAVE to go see Tinkertopia!

Tinkertopia works with local businesses and the community to safely gather reusable materials, converting them into imaginative arts and craft supplies for kids, teachers, “makers and tinkerers.”

Tinkertopia was founded by two artists, one a preschool art teacher who were committed to not only providing opportunities for the community to have low-cost art supplies but also to divert local waste-streams.

Continue reading “Tinkertopia – Tacoma’s Creative Reuse Center”

“Resilience – A Sansei Sense of Legacy”

Kristine Aono, Daruma of Resilience, 2019 – 2021 – A large daruma doll that invited children to post notes of their own hopes and dreams. Courtesy of the Washington State History Museum website – Photograph by Chris Barclay.

“Resilience – A Sansei Sense of Legacy”, an exhibit of art works by eight Sansei (third generation) Japanese-American artists is running until July 7, 2023, at the Washington State History Museum. The show reflects upon the multi-generational impacts of the wartime Executive Order 9066 that sent their families to internment camps.

From Exhibits USA, this touring exhibit was produced by the Mid-America Arts Alliance and curated by Gail Enns and Jerry Takigawa.

It’s difficult to convey the full impact of some of these pieces – one by Wendy Maruyama, has the heaviest presence, consisting of three tree-like bundles, suspended from the ceiling, consisting of replications of the over hundred thousand internment camp identification tags. The original exhibition featured 10 of these, like a forest….each representing one of the ten sites where the US government interned Japanese-Americans during WWII. These tall structures tower over you, sobering you with the enormity of these tags, each representing a Japanese-American, pulled away from their homes, in suspension with 120,000 others for 3-5 years.

Wendy Maruyama – The Tag Project 2011. Replications of camp identification tags.

Reiko Fujii interviewed members of different families who had been interned, in order to capture and share their story. One woman’s story was especially moving and shocking; she had been born and raised in Peru, but for reasons which many Americans don’t realize, the US government asked several Latin American countries to extradict Japanese from their countries after Pearl Harbor. She and her family (and thousands of other Japanese in Latin America) were taken to the US internment camps because they were of Japanese ancestral origin. (For context, during the late 19th-early 20th century there was an influx of Japanese that left Japan to move to Latin America – part of a larger Japanese diaspora during Meiji.)

This woman was 7 years old when she and her family were taken to the US, where they did not speak the language. After the war, even more shocking was that as ‘illegal aliens’ they could not move to communities in the US, but Peru it turned out no longer wanted them either. Their only alternative was to be sent “back” to Japan, a country devastated by the war and not their “home”. There would be no promise of resources or support for them. Her father was very ill, so because of this they stayed an additional two years in the camp until the US allowed them to stay and settle in Berkeley, CA.

To honor not only those Fujii interviewed but to symbolically honor all 120,000 interned, the artist constructed a kimono of 2,000 hand cut glass pieces holding hundreds of fused photographs and stiched with copper wire.

Reiko Fujii – Detained Enemy Alien Glass Kimono – 2017

The last works that really stood out were open ended and subjective. Na Omi Judy Shintani installed three vintage kimono – one black, one red, and one white, on poles, each above an offering bowl. Out of each of these she took cuttings, in circles or in the shape of flowers, and each of these pieces were placed lovingly into these bowls. She describes the process as one of meditation, discovery, and conversation with her ancestors. Perhaps akin to conversations one has with family or within oneself over traumatic topics – there are holes, gaps, silences….there are pieces missing, from one’s family, from oneself. There’s damage, violation of these beautiful garments, just as there was violence inflicted on these families, to their dreams and their belongings….But those pieces that remained – like cut flowers, are now being honored.

Na Omi Judy Shintani – Deconstructed Kimono – 2011

On Native Land – Landscapes at the Tacoma Art Museum

How one curates an exhibit, whose voices, whose identities one decides to center can be an opportunity to heal wounds, hold conversations, and work toward justice. The curator of the Tacoma Art Museum took this opportunity when she developed the signage for how to show the Haub collection of American landscapes. Each painting featured a landscape of what was originally Native Land. Rather than paring each painting with a biographical card about the typically white artist from the 1800s, the curator Faith Brown consulted with local members of the Puyallup tribe to instead center the Native community that had inhabited that land. By describing each work of art as being part of an ancestral homeland of different Native peoples, providing the names of the fields, lakes, rivers, mountains in the languages of those that lived there, they were in a sense giving these landscapes back to the Native communties, giving them the voice and platform within the museum. It was a very powerful act to see, a decision that was moving, important and necessary. The names of the artist were still on the painting itself, but it no longer became necessary to center these names when there others voices needed uplifting.

A video of the virtual opening gives broader context to this exhibit and its aims to cultivate a compassionate and inclusive future.

I encourage everyone local to attend this in person, the exhibit presents a visceral space where one hears the voices of Indigenous people speaking their native languages while you view the landscapes and their accompanying description of who originally lived there and what these mountains and rivers were called. This juxtaposition when you are accostomed to otherwise seeing cards with artist and art historical notes is poignant and welcome.

Tacoma Art Museum provides also a link to additional resources for more information on Native Land and artists, filmmakers and writers working conceptually and strategically toward Land Back efforts and Tribal Sovereignty.

“Golden Time (Grand Tetons)”
This painting is of Tee-win-at (or Teewinot), meaning the Many Pinnacles, also known as the Grand Tetons in Wyoming.