Episode 64. Interview with Ryan Dennison

In this episode we get into conversation with Ryan Dennison, a Diné transdisciplinary artist from Tohatchi, NM. Ryan speaks about his family and community as crucial support systems to maintaining his artistic practice. He shares about his role as a teacher of traditional knowledge and how a whole system approach to learning has not only provided strength for his students but also for himself and his artistic practice and performance work. We hear about his latest upcoming photo installation at Shallow Gallery in Gallup, NM and he reflects on queer identity in relationship to growing up in/near the border town Gallup, NM. Ryan also shares about the thriving underground indigenous/queer/poc/womxn music and art scene currently taking place on the Navajo Nation and surrounding areas. 

 "The Wind Won't Know Me" Solo Performance March 3rd, 2017 at The Hive, Phoenix, AZ Photo by Hannah Manuelito

 "The Wind Won't Know Me" Solo Performance March 3rd, 2017 at The Hive, Phoenix, AZ
Photo by Hannah Manuelito

Shapeshifting through various mediums Ryan Dennison exercises the transposition of past and present to share a social and political soundscape to vision our future environment, acknowledging the interconnectedness of land, culture and community. His practice involves both visual art and sound—engaging in performances that utilize Diné traditional tools with self taught media such as contact mics, synthesizers, handmade costumes, and projections. 

Here is the conversation with Ryan Dennison:

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Music featured on this podcast: Niyol Nee Ní'íí, Dry Spell and We Can Chill by the artist Ryan Dennison

More about the artist:

"Moccasin-Gaze" Solo Performance Indie Electro Punk Fest, Shiprock, NM. October 11, 2016. Photo by Nate Lemuel

"Moccasin-Gaze" Solo Performance Indie Electro Punk Fest, Shiprock, NM. October 11, 2016. Photo by Nate Lemuel

Ryan Dennison’s work defuses critical engaged consciousness and liberation technologies through indigenous research, planning, design, education and healing. He comes from a background of experiential, pastoral and traditional ecological knowledge, which constructs a Diné epistemological framework and pedagogical orientation of traditional/western knowledge. 

He currently works and lives in Gallup, NM as an educator with indigenous communities actively maintaining, renewing and revitalizing traditional knowledge linking, food, culture, health and the environment.

Dennison has been featured in both solo and collaboration exhibitions across Diné Nation and U.S. Sicksicksick Distro (Albuquerque, NM), “All My Relations” Exhibition (Minneapolis, NM), “Visions into Infinite Archives” Exhibition (San Francisco, CA), Deep White Sound (Portland, OR), and “Future Now / Futura Ahora” (New York City, NY).

In his most current work, Dennison presents a private collection of archival work that traces the formation and growth of indigenous people, through resistance against imperialism, patriarchy and colonial threats to land, space and time. Something of a photographic archaeologist, tracking trends and creating collections that Dennison hopes are culturally significant and glimpses into indigenous time and culture. Dennison has been collecting out of print, discarded, thrown away photos of indigenous people and land since his teens. Follow his instagram @asteriskhyphen that documents his methods and his first photo exhibition will be July 8th 2017 at Shallow Gallery in Gallup, NM.