James Luna and Jeneen Frei Njootli
(Puyukitchum/Luiseno and Vuntut Gwitchin)
Internationally renowned performance and installation artist James Luna (Puyukitchum/Luiseno) resides on the La Jolla Indian Reservation in North County San Diego,California. With over 30 years of exhibition and performance experience Luna has given voice to Native American cultural issues, pursued innovative and versatile media within his disciplines, and charted waters for other artists to follow. His powerful works transform gallery spaces into battlefields, where the audience is confronted with the nature of cultural identity, the tensions generated by cultural isolation, and the dangers of cultural misinterpretations, all from an Indigenous perspective.
Since 1975, he has had over 41 solo exhibitions, participated in 85 group exhibitions and has performed internationally at venues that include the Museum of Modern Art (NYC), Whitney Museum of American Art, New Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Canada, and Museum of Contemporary Native Art, Santa Fe, NM.
His performances have been sponsored by a range of presenters, including Nippon International Performance Festival (UK); SITE Santa Fe (Santa Fe, NM), Wing Museum (Seattle, WA), Toronto Free Gallery with Red Sky Performance and imagineNATIVE (Toronto), TRIBE INC/Neutral Ground, (Saskatoon), Paved Arts, (Regina), (Mesa Art Center, Mesa, AZ;), and Humboldt State University (Arcata, CA).
He has received several major awards and grants including the Painters Sculptors Grant from the Joan Mitchell Foundation, Distinguished Artist Award and the Eiteljorg Museum Fellowship for Native American Fine Art from Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in 2007, US/Japan Creative Artist Exchange Fellowship, from the Japan-US Friendship Commission, the Performing Arts/Emerging Fields production grant from Creative Capital, Andrea Frank Foundation grant. Luna has received media arts grants from the Native American Public Broadcasting Consortium for the production of Bringing It All Back Home in 1995 and a Rockefeller Foundation Intercultural Film/Video Grant of for the production of The History of the Luiseno People-Christmas 1990.
Most notably, in 2005, he was selected as the first Sponsored Artist of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian presented at the 2005 Venice Biennale’s 51st International Art Exhibition in Venice, Italy. In 2012 James was awarded Honorary Doctorate of Humanities from the Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe, NM.
Jeneen Frei Njootli is a Gwich’in artist and a founding member of the ReMatriate collective. In 2012, she graduated from Emily Carr University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts after working as a Curatorial Assistant for Rita Wong’s Downstream: Reimagining Water project. Later that year, she went on to hold a Visual Art Studio Work Study position at The Banff Centre, which led to her participation in two thematic residencies there in subsequent years, led by Duane Linklater in 2013 and Postcommodity in 2014. She is currently pursuing her Master of Fine Arts degree as an uninvited guest on unceded Musqueam territory at the University of British Columbia. Frei Njootli’s practice concerns itself with Indigeneity-in-politics, community engagement and productive disruptions. She has worked as a performance artist, workshop facilitator, crime prevention youth coordinator, hunter/trapper and has exhibited across Canada.