BooZhoo, Aniin, friends, art enthusiasts and curious minds.
2020 is coming to a close, and I welcome it greatly, like many. The beginning of the year began turbulent yet had promise. I was fortunate to visit Washington, D.C. for the first Native Arts and Culture Summit. It was exciting and a blessing to be in a space of like minded creatives. Little did I know that at that time, the COVID-19 had been introduced to the soil on Turtle Island, or North America. Quickly, the world was flipped upside down for all of us. My thoughts and ideas for growing within the arts were tucked away, as I needed to focus on the well-being of my family.
At the beginning of 2020, I was also able to create beautiful work by collaborating with a dear friend, mentor and Laguna Pueblo metalsmith Pat Pruitt. The set was unique and one of a kind limited edition. We hope to collaborate in the near future. The experience and challenge reaffirmed that I would like to continue a path of merging designs from painting and utilize technology to create unique pieces. More Indigenous artists are empowered to create micro-businesses or more, allowing us to have control of how we are represented while creating sustainability.
Well, we would like to hope I suppose. 2020 has been a challenge for many small businesses, whether it is starting a new small business, expanding a small business or frankly, being sustainable. While PPP loans were made available, not everyone was approved of them. Self employment in the arts was minimal. However, I was very thankful for organizations like First Peoples Fund, NDN Collective, The Soze Foundation, and the North Dakota Arts Council which their grants were able to offset costs to invest in my arts business.
I recently was able to invest in a laser cutter to further my line "Zazegaa Designs by Hillary Kempenich." The line includes jewelry, clothing and home goods, which I integrated into my family shared Etsy page. (Kempenich Studios) Originally, I was hoping to have work carried in boutiques, however with the pandemic creating shut downs, I have been limited in expanding the line for now. I am eager to advance my experience with this technology to utilize also for art installations.
I do have work that can be found at Watermark Art Center in Bemidji, MN and at the MacRostie Art Center in Grand Rapids, MN that is available for purchase.
Due to the pandemic, most of my schedule for 2020 was shut down. Originally shows and markets were postponed but we have not been able to reopen venues safely. I am thankful for fellow artists helping one another out, whether its words of encouragement, positive word of mouth, or sharing opportunities. Two of my recent works are now a part of the third Bring Her Home at the All My Relations art gallery in Minneapolis, MN. The show will be made available online to ensure safety for viewers.
Like many across the world, we have lost so much- sense of self, security, and stability. Every day we appreciate the air in our lungs and we have been able to maintain a healthy home, especially as my husband works in healthcare. We lost friends and acquaintances, and have watched our loved ones lose family. It has been a helpless feeling. We try to accept what we cannot change, while being responsible by isolating in our home as much as possible, while using masks when we leave. It is simply the least we can do for others and for ourselves in a world of extreme chaos.
With that, I wish everyone well. Blessings and good energy to all.