This episode originally aired April 13, 2019.
We’re playing some of our favorite episodes this fall, looking back on all the things we made over six years of “State of Wonder.” This weekend’s episode is something special we did for Design Week Portland.
When you start to pay attention to design, you tune in to all kinds of unspoken rules and understandings that are part of how things are made. If you haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about how Native style gets used — and often misused in graphic design, fashion, and other disciplines — I guarantee you won’t be able to unsee it after today’s conversation.
We’re talking with a constellation of Native designers and makers to unpack the systems that made these images possible, and discuss more equitable products. Our conversation was recorded during Design Week Portland 2019 before a live audience at Portland State University’s Native American Student and Community Center.
We’re also bringing you some amazing music to kick off the show.
Adia Victoria does not mind if you call her a blues musician. She sees the song form and genre as her legacy. For her second full-length album, “Silences,” Adia teamed up with record producer and guitarist Aaron Dessner (the National). Dessner has also worked on records for Sharon Van Etten and Alt-J. Adia had actually never heard of Dessner’s work before, but she decided to still give this well-recommended guy a try. And we’re all lucky she went with Dessner because they made an amazing record together. She gives us a very candid and quote-worthy filled interview about what led to this emotionally raw — and at times unsettling — collection of songs.
The Native Perspective Missing from Design — 15:44
Meet our guests:
Caroline Blechert (Inuit) — Blechert’s innovative line, Creations for Continuity, combines traditional beading techniques with a contemporary color palette and sensibility. The collective is centered around Blechert’s original designs and collaborations with other artists across the region. We’re excited to see where she’s headed.
Louie Gong (Nooksack) — If you’ve ever visited Seattle’s Pike Place Market, you’ve probably seen the storefront for Eighth Generation (look for the neon hummingbird). If you haven’t, don’t worry. You’ll be hearing a lot more about Louie Gong’s business soon. Gong started it in response to the prolific use of Native imagery by non-Native artists and designers. Eighth Gen’s lines of wool blankets, apparel, home goods, and fine art — all by Native designers — represent a new standard of ethical alternatives. His motto: “Inspired Natives, not Native-inspired.” Check out the lookbook on the company’s website.
Whitney Minthorn (Umatilla / Nez Perce) — Maintaining an international presence from the Umatilla Reservation, near Pendleton, Whitney Minthorn is a high-end fashion, beauty and portrait photo retoucher and portrait photographer. His breathtaking feel for color and nuance have led to his work being shown in Disjecta’s 2016 Oregon Biennial, and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. His retouching client list includes “Đẹp” magazine, “Elle Vietnam,” “Harper’s Bazaar Vietnam,” “Native Peoples Magazine” and Samsung. Whitney is also the owner of an Asian fusion restaurant in Pendleton.
Neebinnaukzhik Southall (Ojibwa) — A graduate of Oregon State University’s Applied Visual Arts program, and the founder of Neebin Studios, a creative business in Santa Fe, NM, Southall would have a lot to contribute to any conversation about Natives in creative disciplines. But the website she started, the Native American Graphic Design Project, made her in a focal point in for representation in her field. Southall’s practice includes graphic design, photography and writing.
Lacey Trujillo (Diné) — A graduate of Arizona State University and the Pensole Design Academy, Trujillo is one of three designers setting color direction for football, baseball, softball and lacrosse. Her work brings her in contact with collegiate and pro-level athletes. In addition to being a huge sneakerhead, she also enjoys cooking, running and photography.
Asa Wright (Klamath/Modoc) —A graphic designer, and founder of Sa’Maqs Studios, Wright has lived in Portland for 20 years. He has degrees from Portland State University and Pacific Northwest College of Art. He blends his backgrounds in public health and art/design to to work on cultural revitalization, decolonization and positive social change.