Image courtesy of Gregg Richards
The first-ever Lenape-curated exhibition in New York is coming to Brooklyn. Presented by the Brooklyn Public Library and The Lenape Center, Lenapehoking features a collection of masterworks by Lenape artists and educational programs that teach visitors the story of the Lenape community. The collection is curated by Joe Baker, the co-founder and executive director of the Lenape Center and enrolled member of the Delaware Tribe of Indians. The exhibition opens on Thursday, January 20 at the Greenpoint Library and Environmental Education Center and runs through April 30.
Bandolier Bag by Joe Baker, 2014; Image courtesy of the artist
The educational programs will be held at different points throughout the winter and spring. Visitors can learn about the crisis of missing Indigenous persons through a panel conversation with Gloria Steinem, listen to original music by Brent Michael Davids and poetry readings by Rebecca Haff Lowry, and learn about Lenape food ways with Farm Hub. Guests can also listen to lectures by Curtis Zunigha, Heather Bruegl, and Hadrien Coumans, in addition to others.
“The exhibition site is a library branch, a public space, a very democratic space, a place where grandmas gather, and children gather; it is in many ways kind of messy and noisy and it’s a part of a community and it is really alive,” Joe Baker said. “And that to us was very important in terms of disrupting the historical hierarchal museum model and placing this work at the very ground level of human experience.”
The collection features never-before-seen artifacts like bandolier bags made between 1830 and 1850, worn by Lenape men for political and social events and used as identification. The bags are symbolic of the Indigenous people’s resilience in the face of displacement, created during the time of the Removal Act of 1830. Bags crafted by Baker serve as contemporary examples of the Lenape’s bandolier bags.
Another item being exhibited for the first time is a contemporary turkey feather cape created by Rebecca Haff Lowry and Sandra Lowery.
Three tapestries consisting of ancestral Lenape seeds, Purple Kingsessing, Blue Shackamaxon, and Hannah Freeman beans, are included in the collection as well. These seeds represent the rematriation of Lenape seeds to their native soil after hundreds of years.
The library’s rooftop will be transformed into a garden featuring Indigenous fruit trees that the Lenape once cultivated in Manhattan, teaching visitors about the Lenape’s living culture.
“The Lenapehoking exhibition does not relegate indigenous history to the distant past,” Linda E. Johnson, president and CEO of Brooklyn Public Library, said. “It traces a through-line to the Lenape artists working today, who have much to teach us about memory, survival, and stewardship. This is precisely the kind of work public libraries are meant to do-ensure every member of the community has access to our shared past and the tools they need in the present to imagine a future that’s more sustainable and more just.”
The exhibition’s virtual opening will take place on January 20 at 7 pm., with Joe Baker leading a digital tour of the artwork and other artifacts on display. Those interested in partaking in the virtual event can RSVP here.
Neighborhoods : Greenpoint