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Rachel Olivia Artist Statement

My art practice is rooted in observation of the natural world and Indigenous values. I explore materials to create artworks in diverse mediums that express Lakota ontologies, question human connections to environments, and investigate natural cycles.


I work with variations of imagery from Lakota symbols, mirrored forms, repeated forms, landscapes, sky-scapes, constellations, plants, stones, and water.  These natural elements embody the teachings of our ancestors and carry with them knowledge, truths, and realities both within and outside of contemporary western methodologies. I have used paint, wood, plaster, fabric, cyanotype, ink, and found objects in my artworks. My art process aims to focus intersections between nature and personal “ways of being” addressing multiplicity of cultures and practices to allow space to reflect upon and learn about the mystery of life, death, and connections to Mitakyue Oyasin (All My Relations). 

Exhibitions & Awards
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2023 Ann Street Gallery Emerging Artist Exhibition

Ann Street Gallery Emerging Artist Fellowship

The fellowship project addresses “decolonization” in a local and contemporary context. The work confronts the tensions and misconceptions in our understanding of American history through study of the land and the story of the Munsee people in the Hudson Valley. The cyanotype "sun-print" process aims to allow the land to tell stories of its original people. Berg’s work explores concepts of shared historical trauma, recovery of Indigenous tradition, and acknowledgement of Indigenous cultural perspectives on mourning, healing, and dreaming.  The work enacts a commitment to change through acts of decolonization.

Intermittent Streams

Plaster stone installations made to honor the seasons and change. In the mountains, an intermittent stream occurs when groundwater provides water for stream flow seasonally. In recent years, the changes in intermittent streams have been an indicator of climate change. There are increasing occurrences of floods of surface water instead of seasonal streams from groundwater made from melting snow or there is not enough melting snow to allow for intermittent streamflow. The stones installed on the wall reflect on the relationship we have to nature and what it can tell us about our changing climate. 

Paper Wings

“Paper Wings” is an exploration of line and the connection of the earth to the celestial bodies. In Paha Sapa (Black Hills) of South Dakota the night landscape that shimmers in the silver light is reduced to the geometry of circle and a tree horizon line. On clear nights one can stand in the prairie grass and deconstruct the landscape to its simplest elements — earth and sky. In New York City, or other places without stars, the buildings can be compared to canyons and lights from lit windows, to stars. These works are imagined memory sky-capes, they are abstractions of line that are imbued with notions of flight, connection to place, and existence.

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