By Hazel-Dawn Dumpert
So close and yet so far, the installation "Every One (#MMIWQT Bead Project)" gazes out at the Dartmouth Green from the second-floor vitrine in the recently renovated façade of the Hood Museum. It’s the only work from the current exhibit “Form & Relation: Contemporary Native Ceramics” that is viewable from outside the closed museum’s walls, which makes it all the more tantalizing, as it offers a potent taste of the work that waits within, and all the more appropriate as it references the untold stories behind crucial loss.
A collaboration between the artists Cannupa Hanska Luger (Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikar, Lakota, Austrian and Norwegian) and Kali Spitzer (Kaska Dena), as well as hundreds of communities from Canada and the U.S., the piece consists of more than 4,000 hand-formed ceramic beads, each one representing a missing or murdered indigenous woman, girl, queer and/or trans person. Strung together and ink-stained to compose a facsimile of Spitzer’s 2016 photograph "Sister," the beads form a whole that speaks to the multi-faceted nature of community, gender and identity, and to the fatal gaps in attention and recognition that have allowed for a murder rate among native women and LGBTQ+ persons that far surpasses the national average in both countries.
Even from a distance, it is a powerful piece, a thing of beauty that doesn’t just inspire yearning for the frisson of witnessing vital artworks in person, but that, even more so in its current context, demands that when we move forward, we must bring everyone, especially the more vulnerable, along with us.
(Ed note: Junction editor Molly Papows is the Hood Museum's Exhibitions Manager and was not involved in the editorial process for this piece.)
Hazel-Dawn Dumpert lives and writes in Lebanon, NH.