PAINTING. PHOTOGRAPHY. QUILLWORK.
What is your name, business/company/artist name, and tribal affiliation?
My name is Tamara Aupaumut, I descend from the Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohican Indians, the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, and the Brothertown Indian Nation.
What kind of art do you do?
I am a visual artist; mostly I paint, but I work in many other mediums, including photography, quillwork, three-dimensional pieces, mixed media, and I also work in film doing art direction and wardrobe.
When and why did you start creating art? Why do you do what you do?
I have been creating art ever since I can remember--the crayon was my first ‘medium’. I do what I do because life can be ugly, but with art you can always create something beautiful.
Describe the general process you go through to create your work?
My general process is centered around nurturing a creative mood--which up until recently was more of a spontaneous thing--but I have learned to set a time, review any notes I’ve made, listen to music, and most of the time that sets me up for success and I’m able to get carried away in whatever I’m creating.
What or who is your inspiration?
I am constantly seeing, feeling, and hearing things that inspire me. I always have ideas when I’m running, taking a bath, and when falling asleep.
Describe your goals as an artist?
My goals as an artist are to create original artwork, explore new mediums, and to create dialogue in the community and society through my art.
What is your dream project?
My dream project would be to design a home, and to furnish the whole interior with personally handmade items -- making the art, the furniture, the dishes, the utensils, the textiles--everything.
What projects are you working on now?
Currently I am working on two paintings, one is a portrait of my maternal great grandmother when she was young in the 1920s. The other painting is about my paternal grandmother (who I lost to breast cancer last summer), it’s about the cycle of life, death and rebirth. I’m also working on a three-dimensional piece about the ‘black snake’, and I have another concept that I’m working on that is about one of my Pequot relatives and how her life was taken from her merely for being herself--a Native woman.
What role does art play in society?
Art transcends language and cultural barriers, and has the power to inspire change. I think this is really important for the development of our youth today, for our future.
Tell us about your relationship to your Native identity and how it manifests in your body of work if at all?
My relationship to my own Native identity is a constant for me, is always evolving, and it plays a large role in my art. I have a deep connection to my ancestors and I’m fortunate because they gave me many gifts to share.
What does Native art mean to you?
Native art represents Native life. It’s the art that I really relate to, I feel connected to it, it makes me feel like I’m apart of something bigger.
What are you passionate about (ie. Hobbies, politics, sports, music, etc)?
I love running, dancing, swimming, hanging out with my family, and of course doing anything that’s creative.
What is something that people don’t know, but should know about your tribe/home community?
The three tribal nations that I belong to have a long history of coexistence. My Oneida relatives invited my Mohican and Brothertown relatives to live with them in New York, and then we all relocated to Wisconsin around the 1820s.
What would you like to see happen in the Native arts community in Minneapolis? At Two Rivers?
I would love to see a Native Women’s Art Collective in Minneapolis; we are underrepresented, and we are strong, and we are visionaries, and by coming together, talking and creating, we could make a bigger impact on the world. Maybe Two Rivers wants to host it (?), and if this is already happening, let me in on it!
Do you feel like there is enough support for Native artists in MN? What are your needs as an artist (place to photograph work, studio space, professional development workshops, computers, etc)?
I personally feel supported here in Minneapolis. I am truly happy and humbled to have been afforded the gift of a studio space at MAIC. Two Rivers Gallery is doing an outstanding job putting together classes for the community and I hope more people engage in the programs.
What are five very random and interesting things about you?
- I was born on a full moon.
- I am an autodidact.
- Sometimes I play devil’s advocate; I enjoy debating all sides.
- I rarely see the sunrise, although I might become a morning person if I lived on the east coast--those ocean sunrises are the best way to start your day.
- Laughter is my medicine.
Please list three short phrase responses for each.
Heroes: Water protectors. Teachers. Our ancestors.
Favorite Artists: Mother Earth.
Music: 80s rock/pop. Classical. Dream pop.
Food: Mashed potatoes. Shellfish. Crème brûlée.
Films and Vids: The Goonies. Pride and Prejudice. Frida.
In Print (books, magazines, etc.): Art. Fashion. Cultural history.
Spirit Animal (please include a drawing or a photo): Chicken (with waffles and maple syrup)
A word of advice: "One act of kindness can create a chain reaction."
Fav place to be: The ocean.