First American Art Magazine No. 22, Spring 2019 - Page 67

CANNUPA HANSKA LUGER The United States has yet to embark on a similar initiative into the rates of missing and murdered Indigenous women, trans, femme, or queer people. However, a report in 2008 published by the US Department of Justice confirmed that rates of murder against Indigenous women are more than ten times the national average. 1 To Luger, “each number in that 4,000 references a life,” which, in terms of hard data, “can be hard to conceptu- alize and put into context.” The day he came to my classroom, we made about 200 beads—a fraction of the total—while eating tamales, laughing, and holding space for the project. He describes humans like beads, vessels with holes from our mouths to our anus. This was the newest iteration of Luger’s art making, “engagements” as he calls them, and gatherings toward a single cause: bringing awareness to the epidemic many had never even heard of, my students included. For my class, the gathering was another way of being together and of learning through the body. The end result would be a tapestry, one that reminds me of Rebecca Belmore’s Trace, beads made with Red River gumbo clay installed like an asymmetrical curtain at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights. Each bead in Every One is akin to a pixel in a grid, and multiple strands are hung like a curtain. Together, the beads form the contours of a face, eyes, hair, and lips—a woman. The tintype portrait by Kali Spitzer (Kaska Dena) that Luger reproduced in clay depicts the sister of a missing Indigenous woman. Our class was one of several places across the United States and Canada where folks made beads for Every One. And, as promised, our names were listed as collaborators when the artwork was first exhibited at an exhibition Luger organized at the Ent Center for Contemporary Art at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, in spring 2018. Every One glowed pink in the light of the gallery, and when I looked closely, I could see the differences in the clay forms. All are roughly two inches in 1. Ronet Bachman, Heather Zaykowski, Rachel Kallmyer, Margarita Poteyeva, and Christina Lanier, “Violence Against American Indian and Alaska Native Women and the Criminal Justice Response: What is Known,” US Department of Justice (August 2008), PDF, 5. SPRING 2019 | 65