Indigi-Show 2020 aims to challenge people’s concepts of indigenous art

by Nick Gonzales

Back in February, we reported on the then-upcoming Indigipop X, a South by Southwest-style festival celebrating indigenous media and culture that grew out of the Indigenous Comic-Con. It was one of the many things we were looking forward to this year.

But 2020 has not gone at all how we hoped.

Indigipop X postponed its in-person festival indefinitely and hosted a number of digital presentations on March 27 and 28, but those obviously weren’t quite the experience we were looking for pre-COVID-19.

Local artist Kayla Shaggy, though, is working on something in the same vein as the all-but-canceled festival. Indigi-Show 2020, which is not affiliated with Indigipop X, aims to create a virtual modern indigenous art convention featuring panelists and artists from various indigenous tribes.

“Indigi-Show is a planned online convention by indigenous creatives and we’ll be incorporating different modern art, including but not limited to comics, stickers, graphic design, and we might get more ‘3D’ people in the future — like jewelry and stuff like that,” said Shaggy. “We’re also going to have speakers who will be talking about different subjects. And a lot of them will be relating to working creatively as an indigenous artist. For example, I’ll be doing a workshop to help other indigenous artists get into self-publishing.”

You might recognize Shaggy from her recent self-published work “Godzilla Decolonizes Durango!” or her series “The Sixth World,” which follows a Diné girl who fights giant insects on Mars. As a project, Indigi-Show is designed to address issues indigenous artists are currently facing.

“I am in a group with other indigenous creatives, and we were all talking about how the pandemic hit us hard … along with our jobs being lost, I had five events planned this year, and they all got canceled,” she said. “And I wasn’t the only indigenous artist that was suddenly in danger of losing their full-time artist job.”

In addition to financially supporting indigenous artists, the show is also meant to challenge how people think of their art.

“I want to create awareness of how indigenous art isn’t what people think it is. It’s not just limited to traditional craft-based stuff,” Shaggy said.

Besides Shaggy, who is Dine and Anishinabe, the other artists include Mercedes Acosta (Taíno), Lyshawna Benally (Diné), Elijah Forbes (Odawa), and Jan Martin (Mi’kmaw). Shaggy said the event is concentrating mostly on artists who have gone unnoticed within the world of indigenous art.

Shaggy is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to get the event funded, and in addition to selling their work as part of the event, some of them are including it as campaign rewards.

If the campaign is successful, the event should be held online on Sept. 26. Shaggy still plans to attempt the event even if the campaign fails, but it will probably look a bit different and be smaller in scale than if the project is fully funded, she said.

“We really want to make an immersive experience as well as showcase the talent of our indigenous creatives. … I think it’s going to be a really great experience,” she said.

Nick Gonzales

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