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Poe Park Visitor Center Online Gallery: Celebrating Native American Heritage Month

Celebrate Native American Heritage Month this November with NYC Parks and Poe Park Visitor Center with a look at artworks by emerging and established artists who are inspired by the rich history, culture, and legacy of Native Americans and the pride of ancestry. 

About Poe Park Visitor Center

Poe Park Visitor Center is a community hub at Poe Park in the Bronx that offers art, literature, fitness, and community events. Due to the pandemic, the center is closed until further notice and the gallery has temporarily moved online to continue our commitment to serving our artists and the community who depend on us to continue our work. Please enjoy the show!

Red Symmetry, Dennis RedMoon Darkeem

Artist statement: Red Symmetry explores the multi-layers of identities of indigenous artists inspired by cultural backgrounds, sexual identification, and survival in the present time. This artist uses a mix of elements of art to balance symbolism and storytelling of lessons of survival in today's day and age. The artist's use of colors, themes, and their abilities to transform everyday objects to relate connections from the past to the present to explore a new narrative of contemporary indigenous art.

A colorful cloud of a collage of patterns and eyes balloons from a woman with her eyes closed and head tilted

Click a thumbnail to view a larger image.

A colorful cloud of a collage of patterns and eyes balloons from a woman with her eyes closed and head tilted
People wearing traditional masks are pasted unto documents
People wearing traditional masks are pasted onto a green tapestry-like image of patterned black spheres with patterns that repeat and change in a clockwise pattern. The top of the image includes red and yellow horizontal patterns
Eight panels on a colorful, each panel show a figure dressed in traditional wear with headdresses and masks
someone wears a gray hoodie with markings and holds a short staff with a golden tip and blue, aquamarine, and beige markings along the shaft; the person stands against against a blue and white chevron background
Someone wearing a neon green hoodie stands against a patterned background with yellow, white, red, blue, and maroon. The individual holds a feather in their mouth
A strip of geometric patterns against a blue and beige background with triangles patterned along the edges
A figure drawn against a yellow background of black rectangles and triangles and half circles with zig zag patterns, triangular shapes, and half loops
A figure with patterned drawings with a medallion head

Ghost Dance, Vincent Salas

Artist statement: In Native American culture, The Ghost Dance is a spiritual tradition that became a symbol of honor and defiance. The central figure represents a Shaman, a symbol of healers and wise elders. Creating this piece was a way of honoring the Native American culture and finding a connection with my own Puerto Rican heritage. 

figurative image of a shaman dances against a pink background with blue cloud like figures above

Ghost Dance
12x9, watercolor/collage, 2019 

About artist Vincent Salas: A self-taught Puerto Rican Artist, social, political, and spiritual issues are of great importance to my work. In 1975, I emerged on canvas with my graffiti name — DO IT — and became a member of the Nation of Graffiti Artists (N.O.G.A.) combined in spray paint with collage and construction. My work continued in many forms, including found objects, mixed media, construction, collage, acrylic, watercolors, and mixed-media installations. I curated many alternative gallery spaces for 15 years, including the Food Stamp Gallery – two large windows in a Cashier Store in East Harlem, where I showed works by a variety of artists and community groups dealing with issues such as homelessness, drug addiction, gentrification, AIDS, police brutality, to name a few. I also curated Galleria Boricua – 12 showcase windows in the lobby of Boricua College in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Works by Julia Justo

Artist statement: My work is inspired by my own Argentinean Indian Heritage. I combine paper, thread, wire, glass, and found objects to create mixed media works. The lines are a metaphor for the waves of immigration that New York experienced since the first European settlements. The black and white symbols represent American Indian culture and traditions.

white patterns of arrows, leaves, and other figurines agains a black wall next to a window like structure that looks out to darkness. Eye-like drawings and a hand is embroidered on the background in brown thread

The Pachamama Code
14x18, mixed media (paper, glass, wire), 2019

Click a thumbnail to view a larger image.

white patterns of arrows, leaves, and other figurines agains a black wall next to a window like structure that looks out to darkness. Eye-like drawings and a hand is embroidered on the background in brown thread
A figure of an individual made of white patterns of leaves, arrows, and other patterns and brown wiring that forms hair, eyes, and hands against a black background. There is also a cushion on which the figure leans.
A figure formed from patterns of leaves, arrows, and other markings with brown thread that form eyes, hair, and hands as if in a thinking position. The figure is sitting in a corner among two monarch butterflies, all against a black background
A figure among three butterflies is formed from white markings with brown wiring that form hair, eyes, and hands against a black background. The hands hold a square, white object that's chipped away
Polka dot patterns, swirls, and markings against a black background
Pieces of patterned shapes against a black background with white swirls

About the artist: Julia Justo was raised in Argentina and currently makes her home in New York. Her interdisciplinary work combines photography, mixed media, and social practice. Using strategies drawn from the fields of education, research, and community activism, she invites participation and collective imagining. She has exhibited extensively in galleries and museums in the United States and abroad including Smack Mellon, Museum of Buenos Aires, Art Complex Museum, Andrew Freedman Home, Monmouth Museum, el Museo del Barrio, and Bronx Art Space. She has been granted numerous awards and residencies including LMCC Creative Grant, Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grant, and Creative Capital NYC Taller. Her publications include the New York Times Guide for Immigrants to New York City, Memoir Magazine, and News NY1.

Native American Birds, Carolina Leiva

Artist statement: Native American birds serve as a messenger between humans and the spirit world, a different type of language to understand tradition, history, and identity. Just like art. 

A bird with blue feathers and a gray underbelly

The Blue Bird
10x7, watercolor on paper, 2020

Click a thumbnail to view a larger image.

A bird with black and gray feathers and a gray underbelly

2019 Bronx Native American Festival Featuring Bobby González

Beginning in 2016, Bobby González has hosted the annual Bronx Native American Festival at Fordham University, showcasing local Indigenous performers from North, South and Central America, and the Caribbean. Bobby has also organized and MC'd Native celebrations in the Bronx for more than 25 years, including the Annual Native American Festival in Pelham Bay Park. 

Bobby González seeks to empower his audiences by encouraging them to embrace their heritage and use this knowledge to create a dynamic future. As an individual proud of his Native American, Latino, African and European ancestry, Bobby is a messenger of hope, pride, and love of diversity. 

About Bobby González: Bobby González is a multicultural lecturer, performance poet, storyteller, a nationally known multicultural motivational speaker, and the event coordinator and master of ceremonies of the Bronx Native American Festival in Pelham Bay Park. Born and raised in the South Bronx, he grew up in a bicultural environment. Bobby draws on his Native American (Taino) and Latino (Puerto Rican) roots to offer a unique repertoire of discourses, readings, and performances that celebrates his indigenous heritage. As a storyteller, he’s had the privilege of performing at Carnegie Hall, the Museum of Television  & Radio, and the Detroit Institute of Arts. He has given poetry readings at the National Museum of the American Indian, the University of North Dakota, and the Nuyorican Poets Café. Bobby has lectured at many institutions including Yale University, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and the University of Mississippi. He is the author of several books including “The Last Puerto Rican Indian: a Collection of Dangerous Poetry” and “TAINO ZEN.” He is on the roster of teaching artists for Symphony Space Theater. Bobby Gonzáles was named the 2018 - 2019 New York City Indian of the Year. 

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