Trypto-Tripping: Thanksgiving at Wonderroot and MINT

Emily Kempf, master of ceremonies and performer

We’re back from the holiday break, and we’ve got some great articles lined up. Remember to stop by Friday afternoon for our take on the best places to see art this weekend. Here’s a recap of two Thanksgiving-themed art shows from the Saturday before the holiday. Each approached their themes with different levels of ironic non-engagement:

MINT Gallery, around 10pm
Detail from Squanto's teepee installation.
Detail from Squanto's teepee installation.

At MINT Gallery, Squanto (interviewed here) held “Fun Art Time.” Musical performances by Ile Tambor (Afro-Caribbean rhythms, song, and dance) and Noot d’Noot (electro-funk with jazz and big band accents) served as a backdrop for Squanto’s rainbow-streaked collages and found-object shrines.

Though Squanto’s pen name and chosen theme suggested a focus on Native Americans, the event (especially the music) was really more about the Native as a global identity, rather than about any specific people of North America. Perhaps, as Squanto’s hippy-themed work reminds us, “native” can become a state of mind.

(Consider how little actual experience Squanto or any Georgian has with Native Americans. When attempting to recreate a culture(s) surrounded by so much misinformation, you’re working within a fairly broad margin of error.)

Detail from the installation surrounding Squanto's hanging pieces.
Squanto, Untitled.

Across town from MINT, WonderRoot held their own Thanksgiving show. This one was another hybrid of visual art and music, with additions supplied by Emily Kempf‘s imagination and a gaggle of her friends, including drawing boards set up around Wonderroot’s basement performance space, impromptu music circles upstairs, new art on all the walls, and the screening of Michael Luketan’s documentary, Ghosts In the Flophouse.

Emily Kempf uses refuse from art supply stores as her medium.
Emily Kempf uses refuse from art supply stores as her medium.

Kempf’s show was similar to Squanto’s in execution: handmade “Indian headdresses,” live music which tended towards the “world music” side of the spectrum, and an expectation that a good deal of the night’s art would be provided by the show’s attendees.

Emily set up communal drawing boards around the bands' performance space.

From what I can tell, Emily was a lot more successful in that third category than Squanto—there’s something about being in an art gallery (even one painted in crazy pastels and filled with colored lights) that makes people inclined to stand motionless with their chin in one hand rather than actually dancing.

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Comment(5)

  • squanto
    December 7, 2008 at

    Dear Em… next Thansgiving is ours…. lets do it right next time… all the way.
    And people who are offended by dress up usually find a lot of shit to become offended by… especially when they never actually talk to you about intentions…. and I think your intentions are pretty close to mine- COMPLETE LIGHTHEARTED FUN-LOVE-LOVEYNESS… which is an intention that is pretty close to extinction.

  • em!
    December 6, 2008 at

    i love your art squanto and ive never even met you! (hope i do soonish soon) and ben i love that you follow the creative current in atown and report back to us (the world) your findings. and to comment leaver #1 (sheep & lion) props on thought processes! :)! when we dressed up as native americans and pilgrims at the wonder root show it was in vein of having a good time and presenting a thanksgiving theme. However, to my shock and i suppose naive dismay, some people were offended and my eyes were opened a little further on some things…a lesson was learned and on to the next show! hoorah!

    e

  • squanto
    December 2, 2008 at

    Oh bother!

  • Ben Grad
    December 1, 2008 at

    Yes, Squanto made this point in our earlier interview, and I agree with it:

    “Though Squanto’s pen name and chosen theme suggested a focus on Native Americans, the event (especially the music) was really more about the Native as a global identity.”

    (that quote is from the review)

    As with all of the Photo Reviews posted on Burn Away, this article focuses more on personal and audience response to the artist’s work. We replace analysis with pictures of an artist’s work so that our readers can form their own response. There are occasional authorial asides which are best described as “musings” rather than actual critical review. You can take these asides as a statement of fact, or you can read them (as intended) as a reflection of the author’s intentionally unfinished thought process.

  • The Sheep and Lion
    December 1, 2008 at

    With kind respect to your “review”. Squanto’s name is indicative of the type of art she makes not in some narrow view of what you think is “Native American” but in the view that she identifies with a culture of honesty and purity and a man who was named based on a foreigners, a foreigner who stole his land and murdered his people I might add, misunderstanding his native tongue and mispronouncing his true name. The same way children refer to a library as a li-berry. It shows either ignorance, lack of respect or both. It doesn’t mean that from now on Squanto is tied to a Native American theme it simply means that she chose a name that represents how she feels about a myriad of things the least of which being art. As for her theme not being “Native American” enough, it was called “Fun Art Time”. I know, I know you’ll draw my attention to the tribe from Oklahoma, the “funarttimeawaks” but they weren’t as well know so you’ll forgive her for that. Also, “Consider how little actual experience Squanto or any Georgian has with Native Americans. When attempting to recreate a culture(s) surrounded by so much misinformation, you’re working within a fairly broad margin of error”? Are you new to art? Art isn’t necessarily about research and knowledge of a subject, it’s about interpretation and expression and it’s about life and living and a person letting out the things they see when they open their eyes. Your review does little justice to the kind of art she is capable of doing and that she has already done.

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