Indigenous Maker Highlight: BRASS ARROW

We are so happy to welcome back to the shop, Brass Arrow. We've longed to collaborate with Noel as her handcrafted goods enrich our shop and the world. We're honored to highlight Brass Arrow for Native American Heritage Month this November. 

 

Can you talk about your many creative outlets? How did you get your hands into so many different artistic processes? 

I am an artist and designer, I work with a wide variety of mediums including drawing, painting, poetry, beadwork, puppetry, performance, and textiles. I come from a very creative family and community, where the arts and exploration are very encouraged and supported, and then have travelled and lived all over, creating, experimenting and collaborating.

What is your favorite creative process and why?
Although it's currently not one I get to as often, I think I love experimental puppetry & performance the most because I get to pull in so many other practices such as music and video. Larger scale artworks are really satisfying for me because they are one where I get to have freedom in my expression, endless possibilities uninhibited by parameters that are found in other avenues of my creative work. I do have a very special love for my clothing, for Brass Arrow, because it's so inspiring and invigorating to see others wear it, give it life. That makes me endlessly happy and honored.
Can you share the story behind the name Brass Arrow?
 
It comes from a poem I wrote many years ago, I condensed it into a short phrase that encapsulates the feelings written. I like that Brass is an alloy, a mixture of metals that becomes stronger and more beautiful when combined, which also references my mixed heritage. There are other great definitions of "brass"- like to have a lot of gall/bravery, the horns section of music, and persons of high position, which I interpret not as a hierarchy, but from earned respect from acting with our highest selves, integrity. "Arrow" comes from direction, a compass to guide us, and Indigenous strength and moving forward into a future of decolonization.
Can you tell us what inspired your exclusive M+A collaboration piece? 

These bandanas are full of the + symbol which I use a lot in my art, and has multiple meanings cross culturally. You might interpret them as stars, as the mathematical symbol of addition and positive quantity, which I like as togetherness, and the international symbol of health care. In my Native culture they are also symbolic of the four directions. Together, in all directions, helping others. A message I think we can all hold closer during these challenging times.

Can you tell us about your background? What drives your passion for making and how does that passion inform the rest of your life?

I come from a mixed race family, and my Mother's side is Chiricahua Apache Nde and Indigenous-Mexican, she is an Artist who works with both traditional and contemporary techniques from our culture. She taught me so much of what I know and I will continue to be her lifelong student in our Peoples' ways. I have also always been drawn to DIY underground or subcultural communities, art punks, outsider artists... where the ethos to create no matter what and for yourself is alive. I am "self- taught" but I have learned from so many others in different communities, and in all the inspirations I have absorbed and carry, they manifest in many different ways. My life is not separate from my art, they are the same in the way that it is energy and ideas constantly being cycled through all I do, it is my subconscious and my most waking intention. It is in my blood, and my ancestry. A wellspring I will spend all my life trying to honor by creation.

To honor Native American Heritage Month, we have asked you to pick out an organization that we will be fundraising for this Month. Can you speak about the organization you chose and why you chose it? 
I wanted to choose an organization that helps other 2SLGBTQ BIPOC artists, so that more of our voices may be uplifted when we need to be heard the most. This is from their site- "R.I.S.E. is an Indigenous founded artist/activist/warrior initiative. R.I.S.E. is dedicated to the education, dissemination, & evolution of Indigenous art & culture. " There are so many great organizations and people doing incredible work right now it was really hard to choose!

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our community?

I would like to say thank you for all the support. Let's take care of each other, and our planet, it's the hardest and most rewarding work, to tend and be tender. 

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