DENNIS REDMOON DARKEEM
Land Acknowledgement Flag (2021)
Digital print on vinyl, 36” x 59”
The text recognizes some of the tribes that originally inhabited New York. The photo is of a Lenape gathering in the 1920s (photographer unknown).
Land Keepers, Care Takers (2019)
Gouache paint, collages on 1772 and 1582 land deeds, mixed media, each 12” x 15” framed
Juxtaposing images of ancestors of Black/Indigenous tribes with historic New York land deeds, the Land Keepers series explores the idea of land ownership and those who are responsible for taking care of land and this country, and their connections to the places they call home. It alludes to the idea of sovereignty over one’s body without the fear of being displaced.
Flag Totem (2019)
Old clothing and found fabrics, 29” x 50”
My work unconventionally transforms everyday objects that reflect on the historical understanding of the past and explore new ideas of future, incorporating a craftwork aesthetic that connects tradition with the contemporary. Made from old clothing, found fabrics and powwow supplies, my flag pieces also explore creating one’s identity through acknowledging and respecting the past.
The colors and textures in this flag symbolize Indigenous connections to past, present, land and water. Traditional powwow regalia materials like ribbons, rick rack, and fabrics incorporate the language of Indigenous tribes that can be found along the East Coast of the United States.
Top: Flags (2020)
Mixed media, approximately 30” x 29”(L), 30” x 32” (R)
Bottom: Cavalry Flag (2019)
Mixed media, approximately 28” x 115”
I designed the Cavalry Flag in honor of the Buffalo Soldiers, who fought against Native Americans along the United States western frontier after the Civil War. In 1866, six all-Black cavalry and infantry regiments were created after Congress passed the Army Organization Act, and they fought in major American wars through World War II. Many of the Buffalo Soldiers were at war with Mexican Indigenous tribes, who would later become American Indians. Some Buffalo Solider Calvary men Intermarried within Indigenous tribes. The case of the Buffalo soldiers highlights the complex history of African American and Native American relations in the United States especially in relation to land settlement; these groups were not always allies despite both being oppressed by European settlers. Reflecting my mixed-race Yamasee Creek-Seminole and African American background, my work aims to dispel myths about Native Americans and what we look like.
The two smaller flags are abstract expressions of a landscape using designs and colors.
Only The Strong Survive NYC (2020)
Drawing designs digitally printed on fabric, 36” x 48”
This flag gives voice to the narrative of existence, survival and taking ownership of historic narratives.
This design is available as smaller flags and t-shirts at the OSH gift shop.
Before Plantations & the Trail of Tears (2019)
Digital print on canvas, 16″ x 20″
This photo was created to acknowledge the Indigenous tribes that were sold into slavery in the 1500s-1800s all over the East Coast. These tribes’ lands were taken and many were killed or enslaved in the Caribbean and other parts of the United States. I aim to call attention to this history that is not commonly taught in schools, leading to the assumption that enslaved people all came from Africa.
This image is part of a larger photo series created during the Surf Point residency on a private estate in York, ME, which also explores issues of belonging and how we define private versus public land.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Dennis Redmoon Darkeem is inspired to create artwork based on the familiar objects that he views through his daily travels. He discovers elements in existing architecture and among everyday items found within the home. Ultimately, he sets out to express a meaningful story about events in his life and those found with the communities with whom he works. Since his work as a professional artist commenced in the early 2000s, it has evolved into critiquing social and political issues affecting US and Indigenous Native American culture. Much of his art has focused on issues like institutionalized racism and classism, jarring stereotypes, and displacement of people of color. As a multimedia artist, Darkeem expresses these motifs through fine art, performance, and photography. He received a BA and MFA from Pratt Institute. He has exhibited locally and nationally and received awards and fellowships from the Bronx Council of the Arts, Bronx Museum, and the Laundromat Project, among others.
Follow him on Instagram at @dennisredmoon.