PORTLAND — You’re invited to a free conversation on contemporary art making on Wednesday, March 3 at 4 p.m. via Zoom (RSVP at portlandovations.org). Please join Portland Ovations, Indigo Arts Alliance and a dynamic group of North American Indigenous artists in a sweeping conversation, “Seeking Resonance: Toward Being Future Beings.” This gathering looks toward the development of renowned Yup’ik artist and choreographer Emily Johnson’s new multidisciplinary project, “Being Future Being,” of which Portland Ovations is a co-commissioner.

This virtual conversation brings Maine-based artists Jason Brown (Penobscot), Donna Decontie (Penobscot) and Chris Newell (Passamaquoddy) into dialogue with Emily, her collaborators Drew Michael (Yup’ik and Inupiaq) and Maggie Thompson (Fond du Lac Ojibwe), and you. Together, we will share a conversation that spans fashion, dance, performance, music, and textile and visual arts, as they discuss their experiences as Indigenous artists making work today: their relationships to tradition, place, spirituality, and more.

The Seeking Resonance Series is a partnership between Portland Ovations and Indigo Arts Alliance, in collaboration with the Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center.

Johnson is an artist who makes body-based work. She is a land and water protector and an activist for justice, sovereignty and well-being. Emily is a Bessie Award-winning choreographer, Guggenheim and United States Artists Fellow, and recipient of the Doris Duke Artist Award. She is based in Lenapehoking / New York City. Emily is of the Yup’ik Nation, and since 1998 has created work that considers the experience of sensing and seeing performance. Her dances function as portals and care processions, they engage audienceship within and through space, time, and environment — interacting with a place’s architecture, peoples, history and role in building futures. Emily is trying to make a world where performance is part of life; where performance is an integral part of our connection to each other, our environment, our stories, our past, present and future. 

Her choreography and gatherings have been presented across the United States and Australia. Recently she choreographed the Santa Fe Opera production of Doctor Atomic, directed by Peter Sellars. Her large-scale project, Then a Cunning Voice and A Night We Spend Gazing at Stars is an all-night outdoor performance gathering taking place amongst 84 community-hand-made quilts. It premiered in Lenapehoking (NYC) in 2017, and was presented in Zhigaagoong (Chicago) in 2019. Her new work in development, Being Future Being, considers future creation stories and present joy.  

Emily’s writing has been published and commissioned by ArtsLink Australia, unMagazine, Dance Research Journal (University of Cambridge Press); SFMOMA; Transmotion Journal, University of Kent; Movement Research Journal; Pew Center for Arts and Heritage; and the compilation Imagined Theaters (Routledge), edited by Daniel Sack. She was an advisory committee member for Creative Time’s 10th Anniversary Summit and a Phase One working group member of Creating New Futures. She serves on the advisory committee for Advancing Indigenous Performance Initiative of Western Arts Alliance, The Center for Imagination in the Borderlands and the Native American Arts Program Expansion Committee for Idyllwild Arts. Emily is the Pueblo Arts Collaborative Diplomat at Santa Fe Opera, and a lead organiser of First Nations Dialogues.

Emily hosts monthly ceremonial fires on the Lower East Side of Mannahatta in partnership with Abrons Arts Center. She is part of a US based advisory group—including Reuben Roqueni, Ed Bourgeois, Lori Pourier, Ronee Penoi,  and Vallejo Gantner—who are developing a First Nations Performing Arts Network. 

Indigo Arts Alliance is an incubator space for Black and Brown artists. Indigo amplifies the creative voices and visions of global and local artists and facilitates cross-cultural collaboration using a multidisciplinary approach, exemplified by Indigo’s Artist Residency program and the mentor-mentee relationships central to it. Their mission is to connect Black and Brown artists from around the world with Maine’s artists of African descent through a variety of programs that embody a Black-led approach to creativity, community-building, and mentoring. With intentionality and purpose, Indigo facilitates open discourse as a means to form deep partnerships and build the necessary framework that unites art with social activism and social justice. They believe artists play a key role in creating a healthy multi-racial democracy.

Portland Ovations’ was founded in 1931 as the Portland Concert Association and looks forward to celebrating its 90th anniversary in 2021. Portland’s only presenter of all performance disciplines—from Broadway National Tours, to dance, theater, and multiple music genres — Ovations’ mission is to contribute to the cultural, social, and economic wellbeing of our communities by presenting an array of high-quality performing artists from around the world and creating diverse educational experiences that bring the enjoyment, energy and enrichment of the arts to all. Ovations envisions inspiring a curious and imaginative community where the experience of the performing arts is a vital part of everyday life. You can join us in this effort by becoming a Member at www.portlandovations.org/support