» Catalyst Series
Dimensions of Indigenous: Storytelling
Ce Tempoxcalli, Electric Machete Studios, and
Intermedia Arts
Dimensions of Indigenous: Storytelling
Curated by Gordon Coons, Ojibwa, Lac Courte Oreilles
& Rebekah Crisanta de Ybarra, Xinka-Lenca, El Salvador

Dimensions of Indigenous: Storytelling is a multi-disciplinary all nations art exhibition featuring both contemporary and traditional work of Indigenous artists of the Americas whose work evokes decolonization, resistance, and cultural identity.

There are many parallels in the stories embedded and embodied in Indigenous art. From creation to flood to resistance for future generations, Storytelling seeks to explore these parallels in order to better understand how we are related as Indigenous nations.

Dimensions of Indigenous: Storytelling features work by:

Colleen Casey, Poet, Bdote & Mdewakanton Dakota
Dakota Hoska, Painter, Oglala Lakota
Maggie Thompson, Textile, Ojibwe
Cole Jacobson, Painter, Mdewakanton Dakota
Chholing Taha, Painter/Textile, Cree
Gordon Coons, Printmaker, Ojibwa
Julie Boada, Puppeteer, Anishinabe

Gustavo Boada, Puppeteer, Moche
Xilam Balam, Painter, Mexica
Zamara Cuyun, Painter, Highland Maya   
Gabriela Erandi Spears, Poet, Matlatzinca & P'urhepecha
Rebekah Crisanta, Mixed Media, Xinka-Lenca
Gustavo Lira, Painter/Musician, Mixteco & Zapotec


Xilam Balam is a St. Paul visual artist, lyricist, and producer. Primarily a painter, he works with a broadspectrum of mediums from airbrush to stone jewelry, clay, mosaic & hip hop. Born in San Antonio,Tejas, Balam's Xicano identity is at the center of all his art forms. He has spent the last 20 years studying Maya and Mexica glyphs and is individual in his stylized epigraphy drawings. Balam's music can be found with Rhymesayers Entertainment and Fifth Element Online as Los Nativos, and as Auddio Draggon with St. Paul veteran hip-hop artist, Mr. Gene Poole. His current projects include an album with the contemporary mesoamerican clay flutes which he also creates and sells, Curandero with DJ Rico Simon Mendez, an upcoming album by Los Nativos, and developing a new screen-printed t-shirt line through Electric Machete Studios. 

Gustavo Boada, is a theater-based multidisciplinary artist with more then 20 years of experience in professional theater in Peru, Chile, Puerto Ricoand USA. From 1997-1998 he was invited by Peter Schumman to work in Bread and Puppet Theater. During the summer of 1999 he worked with  Puerto Rican Puppet Theater ”The World of the Puppets.” In addition, in 2000 -2003 Gustavo Boada worked with Puppetry in Practice at Brooklyn College. He moved to Philadelphia in June 2003 to create a non-profit organization to promote social change through the theater: NAYLAMP Street & Puppet Theater .Since moving to Minneapolis 2007, he has been working with HOBT in Minneapolis as MayDay Parade staff and roster artist as well as ArtStart as roster artist and diverse community organizations of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Gustavo has recently been curated for HOBT’s Saturday Spanish Puppet shows, a series of 12 different performances to outreach the Latino Community of South Minneapolis.

Julie Boada is an Anishinabe artist, storyteller, puppeteer and arts educator. She has
worked regionally and nationally for the past 26 years, both within the Heart of the Beast
Puppet and Mask Theatre and independently. She has worked with many arts organizations
including the L.A. Music Center, The Minnesota History Center, and The Fergus Falls Center
for the Arts. Her recent work includes Beauty All Around, Between the Worlds, Shota and The
Star Quilt, Coyote Stories, Retelling the World
 and May Day. Julie has received grants from the
Minnesota State Arts Board and the Jerome Foundation and is a 2014 Ivey Award recipient for
design of Between the Worlds. Julie has a B.A. in Studio Arts and American Indian Studies from
the University of Minnesota. She is passionate about work that inspires, builds community
and fosters cultural pride.

Colleen Casey is a writer, educator and community organizer. Colleen aspires to be the change she wishes to see in the world. In her current role as Community Editor with the Saint Paul Almanac, Colleen gathers stories  and art that reflect a city--and world--as seen and experienced through myriad lenses. Colleen's life has been  enriched by a Beyond the Pure grant (2011), a Creative Community Leadership  fellowship  (2011), and a Native Inroads mentorship at the Loft (2011).  From Bdote and of Mdewakanton Dakota and European-American heritages, Colleen considers herself a person of crosscurrents and confluences. Because of intermarriage  and mixed-blood status, her Dakota forbears were among the estimated 3-5% of Dakota people who were allowed to stay in Mni Sota after the US Dakota War of 1862. She writes with the TGI Frybread Loft sponsored community writing group and facilitates connection, truth telling and greater understanding by co-curating an  annual literary showcase 'Dakota Writers Speak  to Presence,' which is usually held on the anniversary of the 1862 mass-hanging of Dakota men in Mah-kah-to, on the day after Christmas.  Colleen holds a B.A. in art history from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and is pursuing a teaching license in English Language and Communication Arts at The College of Saint Scholastica, Saint Paul.

Gordon Coons’ creations are reflections of his heritage and life experiences. He portrays his views of traditional native stories by incorporating strong family influences into each image. He is an enrolled member of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin. Gordon’s heritage of Chippewa/Ojibwa comes from his father and Ottawa from hismother, who is an enrolled member of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians from Michigan. Gordon’s inspiration comes from his heritage of Chippewa and Ottawa.  He tries to express his culture through his work by using a contemporary style.  He also enjoys incorporating playfulness in his images, telling stories of relationships between Western and Native cultures, and the connection between the shared historical events.  His goal as an artist is to channel his creativity by eliciting a more universal interpretation of his work and heritage. Gordon’s color palette is important to him when expressing nature and humanity.  He prefers to use bright colors in order to visually welcome viewers into his world of expression. 

Rebekah Crisanta de Ybarra (Xinka-Lenca) is an emerging multidisciplinary post-modern folk artist. She works in visual art, music, and performance. Her visual work is the contemporary expression of traditional artesanías of Mexico and Central America. In addition to being a curator for Dimensions of Indigenous, she is the Director of Arts & Culture for the non-profit Ce Tempoxcalli, and a Mexica/Azteca dancer. For the past 10 years, she has worked as a teaching artist with various non-profits and schools specializing in the environmentally just reuse of found-object and natural materials known as resquatche. As a founding artist and curator with Electric Machete Studios (a newly formed public benefit company and gallery) she is passionate about building community through contemporary cultural arts and elevating folk arts to high art spaces. 
Zamara Cuyun is a self-taught, local, Guatemalan-American painter, of Highland Maya ancestry, working in acrylics, incorporating elements of Maya myth, ideology, and iconography into her work – sometimes  to explore and create a vibrant, colorful, imaginary dream universe and, at other times, to represent the  restless, violent, and unsettling world we are often forced to inhabit. In this visual storytelling, she draws inspiration from the pictorial representations and glyphs of the pre-colonial Maya to the oral and written  histories of the colonial K’iche and Kaqchikel, as well as the work of contemporary Guatemalan writers and visual artists. Color and light are of the utmost importance to Zamara in her work. She wants her subjects – the lovely, as well as the gruesome – to pulse with color, light, and life from within. Vibrant Guatemalan indigenous textiles and folk-art, as well as the work of the Mexican Muralists of the early Twentieth Century influence and inform her use of color and brushstroke.

Gabriela Erandi has direct lineage from the P’urhepecha and
Matlatzinca people in Michoacan. Raised by asingle mother who labored in the strawberry fields, she grew up calling trailer parks and labor camps ‘home’ while following the crops along  the American West Coast. She is a graduate of Stanford University and received her Ph.D. in Comparative Ethnic Studies from U.C. Berkeley. Her anti-war play, G.I. Jose was staged and directed by Cherrie Moraga at Stanford University in 2003. Gabriela toured the country as a performer with INCITE's Sisterfire! Cultural Arts  Tour for Radical Women of Color and has been a  featured poet at the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City numerous times. She also shared her poetry throughout Mixtec territory in Oaxaca as an annual participant in Mujeres Poetas en el Pais de las Nubes. Gabriela’s poetry has been published in various anthologies including; Poesia mexicana en la frontera norte (Spain: 2011),Turtle Island to Abya Ayala: an anthology of Native American and Latina Women  (San Francisco: 2011),Sing: poetry from the Indigenous Americas(Tucson: 2011), and Love Rise Up: poems of social justice, protest, and hope (Hopkins: 2102). Gabriela was the first-place winner of the Xochiquetzalli  Award for Naitive/Chicana Women's Poetry in 2008; her poem In Memoriam will be featured in Rosa Linda Fregoso’s forthcoming anthology about feminicide in the Americas.

Dakota Hoska was born and raised in South Dakota. The wide-open prairie had a profound effect on how she views the world.  As an infant, Dakota had been adopted out to a Norwegian family. As a young adult, she worked for the release of her adoption papers and soon after moving to Minneapolis, she joined an Adoptee’s group that helps Native Adults find their way back into the community.  In 2013, Dakota reconnected with her biological family and learned that she is Oglala Lakota, from the Pine Ridge Reservation  (Wounded Knee). Her Lakota heritage, family, and community now play an ever-increasing role in her life and artistic practice. In Dakota’s early twenties, she moved to Europe and lived and worked in the Netherlands for six years. The friends she made there and the art venues she was able to attend were instrumental in igniting Dakota’s passion to pursue a career in the arts. In 1996, she returned from Holland and began the pursuit of her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.  While juggling a full-time job, a marriage, and two small children, she pursued her studies whenever possible.  In 2010, she was finally able to attend school full-time, completing her BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in December 2012. Currently, Dakota works as a full-time artist, with her studio located in St. Paul, MN.  She lives in South Minneapolis with her two sons, her husband, and two mischievous huskies.

Cole Jacobson is a Mdewakanton Dakota artist raised in southeastern Minnesota, he is enrolled in the Prairie Island Dakota Community. His cultural background heavily influences his work and is part of his ideation. An artist that works in 2D media, Jacobson explores mixing western concepts, with Native subject matter. Using materials such as acrylic paint, oil paint, charcoal, collage, ink, and watercolor; he creates work by mixing them with material traditional to his Dakota people, using beadwork, quillwork, and other native craft techniques.  Much of Jacobson’s inspiration comes from studying collections that display the floral and geometric motifs that were part of Dakota material culture. The issues surrounding Native culture and race, as well as his inner conflict of being of both Native and European heritage inspire many of his pieces. By expressing these ideologies in his work, Jacobson is able to further understand and express living in two different worlds when having to learn to balance both.

Gustavo Lira’s creative process combines academic knowledge, cultural identity and influences which engage his imagination to explore diverse expressions and mediums. He is constantly pursuing new ideas, techniques and is open to what the world has to offer as new technology enters his field on a larger scale. Gustavo engages and pushes himself to grow within his preferred mediums but he also enjoys exploring new methods. Fellow artists inspire him by challenging one another to broaden their skills and expand abilities through education, opportunities and projects, which collectively further the common good. Gustavo is a community-based person who believes in the power of the collective to increase our voices.

Chholing Taha is a certified Cree First Nations artisan and adoption
survivor currently residing in Anoka Minnesota. She has been art-crafting and writing intensively for the past 40+ years. Chholing and her  family have been residence of Minnesota since 2011. Chholing’s art works may be found in museums,  corporate and private collections, throughout the U.S., Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Brazil  and Japan. She is the 2007 winner of the Eiteljorg Purchase Award as well as the 2008 First Place winner in Textiles at the Annual Eiteljorg Indian Market. In 2009 & 2011 Chholing was awarded  “Best in Show” at the In the Spirit Contemporary Art Exhibit. Her work was also a part of the
 2011-2012 Mni Sota Reflections in Time-traveling exhibition – Minnesota. In
 2011 her first novel, She Who Was Taken
 was published and in 2012 her art was purchased by the Tweed Museum at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Also in 2012 her work was added to the permanent exhibition Native Voices located at the National Institutes of Health in Washington DC. In addition, in 2012 Chholing began the Singing Water Project, a series of art works that honor the importance of and the human right to water and  acknowledges the work of the Water Walkers. In 2013 she was the Purchase Award winner from the Minnesota Museum of American Art in St Paul. Most recently
 Chholing was awarded The People Choice Award in the Spirit contemporary Native Art Exhibit in Tacoma WA.

Maggie Thompson (Fond du Lac Ojibwe) was born and raised in Minneapolis. She received her  Bachelor of Fine Arts in Textiles at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in 2013. As a textile artist and designer she derives her inspiration from the history of her Ojibwe heritage, exploring family history as well as themes and subject matter of the broader Native American experience. Thompson’s work calls attention to its materiality pushing the viewer’s traditional understanding of textiles. She explores materials in her work by incorporating multimedia elements such as photographs, beer caps and 3D printed objects. She also started her own knitwear business known as Makwa Studio in 2013 and is currently showing work at the Minneapolis Institute of Art in their exhibit Arriving at Fresh Water and at All My Relations in their exhibit,On Fertile Ground

Ce Tempoxcalli's mission is to build healthy communities by revitalizing indigenous cultural knowledge. It is with a Mexica (Aztec) heart that Ce Tempoxcalli serves indigenous peoples of the four directions in MN, AZ, and CA through strengthening the program areas of Arts and Culture, Environmental Justice, Health and Wellness, and Community and Youth Development.

ABOUT ELECTRIC MACHETE STUDIOS | www.electricmachete.com
Electric Machete Studios is a Twin Cities collective of artists, musicians, dancers, stylists, producers, film makers, fashion designers, curators, teachers, and community organizers working along side and with one another in the contemporary creative narrative of the Mexican/Chican@/Latin@/Indigenous identity and artistic style.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund, and a grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation Minnesota

A Part of Intermedia Arts' Catalyst Series