4/16 | Social Engineer: The Artist as Bridge Builder


Social Engineer: The Artist as Bridge Builder
With Cannupa Hanska Luger
In conversation with Shari Huhndorf

Thursday, April 16, 2020 | 12:00-2:00pm
Please note, this event will be held online. Details forthcoming.

Co-sponsored by the Arts Research Center, the Ethnic Studies Department, the Native American Studies Program, and Berkeley Arts + Design

This event is part of the Arts + Design Thursdays series. See the full Spring 2020 line-up here.


In a world polarized politically, economically, racially, and sexually we are forced to question our trust. However our trust is the mortar that binds our intelligence. We need one another now more than ever. But, how do we see eye to eye with human groups we don’t trust. Enter the artist. If we can subvert the idea art is an object, a noun, then we can reinstate the truth that art is a verb, an action. In developing processes that include society as a medium the act of making builds communities that are embedded in the object of these processes. It connects people that may not engage with one another to create work together. Thus the role of artist is bridge builder.


Cannupa Hanska Luger is a multi-disciplinary artist of Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lakota, Austrian, and Norwegian descent. Through monumental installations that incorporate ceramics, video, sound, fiber, steel and repurposed materials, Luger interweaves performance and political action to communicate stories about 21st century Indigeneity. Using social collaboration and in response to timely and site-specific issues, Luger produces multi-pronged projects which often times presents a call to action, provoking diverse publics to engage with Indigenous peoples and values apart from the lens of colonial social structuring. Luger lectures and participates in residencies and projects around the globe and his work is collected internationally.  He is a 2019 Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant recipient, a 2019 Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Honoree and the recipient of the 2018 Museum of Arts and Design’s inaugural Burke Prize. Luger holds a BFA in studio arts from the Institute of American Indian Arts. www.cannupahanska.com @cannupahanska

Shari M. Huhndorf received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from New York University, and she is currently Class of 1938 Professor of Native American Studies in the Department of Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley. Her research and teaching focus on the areas of interdisciplinary Native American studies, Alaska Native studies, contemporary literary and visual culture, cultural studies, gender studies, and American studies. Huhndorf is the author of two books, Going Native: Indians in the American Cultural Imagination (Cornell University Press, 2001) and Mapping the Americas: The Transnational Politics of Contemporary Native Culture (Cornell University Press, 2009), and a co-editor of Indigenous Women and Feminism: Politics, Activism, Culture (University of British Columbia Press, 2010), winner of the Canadian Women’s Studies Association prize for Outstanding Scholarship. Another co-edited work, Sovereignty, Indigeneity, and the Law (Duke University Press, 2011), a special issue of South Atlantic Quarterly, won the Council of Editors of Learned Journals award for best special issue of a journal as well as the award for outstanding indigenous scholarship from the American Indian and Alaska Native Professors Association for 2011. Her work has also appeared in journals including Critical Inquiry, PMLA, American Quarterly, American Anthropologist, South Atlantic Quarterly, Social Identities, Annals of Scholarship, and Signs (forthcoming). She has received major fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the American Association of University Women. Currently she is working on two book projects: a manuscript titled “Indigeneity and the Politics of Space: Gender, Geography, Culture,” and, with Roy Huhndorf, a community history of Alaska Native land claims.