Sky Hopinka’s visually striking and linguistically rich films, photographs, and poetry, explore the layered nature of contemporary Indigenous experience. A member of the Ho-Chunk Nation and descendent of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, Hopinka’s personal work teases out legacies of both colonial oppression and Native resistance, illuminating continuities between past and present, the known and unknowable.
Seeing and Seen is a multi-sited exhibition, taking place between UC Santa Cruz and SJMA. SJMA will debut a newly commissioned video by the artist, given wider context by existing films, installations and photographs on view at UC Santa Cruz’s Institute of the Arts and Sciences Galleries. Across the venues, the works aesthetically and evocatively explore the relationships between the settler colonial history of the United States and the current experiences of carcerality within Indigenous communities.
Sky Hopinka: Seeing and Seen is organized by Rachel Nelson, Gina Dent, and Lauren Schell Dickens as part of Visualizing Abolition, a public scholarship initiative at UC Santa Cruz and SJMA designed to shift the social attachment to prisons through art and education. Funding for Visualizing Abolition is provided by the Mellon Foundation.
Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk Nation/Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians) was born and raised in Ferndale, Washington. In Portland he studied and taught chinuk wawa, a language indigenous to the Lower Columbia River Basin. His video, photo, and text work centers around personal positions of Indigenous homeland and landscape, designs of language as containers of culture expressed through personal, documentary, and non fiction forms of media. His work has played at various festivals (including Sundance, Toronto International Film Festival, Ann Arbor, Courtisane Festival, Punto de Vista, and the New York Film Festival) and was featured in the 2017 Whitney Biennial, the 2018 FRONT Triennial and Prospect.5. He was a guest curator at the 2019 Whitney Biennial and participated in Cosmopolis #2 at the Centre Pompidou. His solo exhibitions include the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College and LUMA Arles. He was awarded the Tom Berman Award for Most Promising Filmmaker at the 54th Ann Arbor Film Festival, and the New Cinema Award at the Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival. He was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University in 2018- 2019, a Sundance Art of Nonfiction Fellow for 2019, an Art Matters Fellow in 2019, a recipient of a 2020 Alpert Award for Film/Video, a 2020 Guggenheim Fellow, and was a 2021 Forge Project Fellow.