By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
One Feather Staff
A member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has brought an Indigenous viewpoint to an art installation in Brooklyn. Isabella Saunooke, a sophomore seeking a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting with a minor in philosophy from the Pratt Institute, participated recently in the university’s art show.
“My artwork was a response to a theme from Pratt Foundation called ‘XO’,” said Saunooke. “Participants who entered came up with compositions that resembled either the letter X or O. The chosen participants’ works were displayed on the sidewalk on the Myrtle Avenue Plaza, which is just across the street from Pratt Institute’s main campus.”
She submitted two pieces for the show – both of which were titled “The Land We Walk On.”
Saunooke explained the name and meaning. “I was thinking about the importance of land and ownership. Brooklyn is called home by so many vastly different lives. In contrast, I was considering the Lenape-hoking tribe and the forced removal of Indigenous people.”
Her art statement on the pieces was, “When people see this, I want them to think about the land and space they are taking up at that moment. What happened to get you to that place?”
To Saunooke, her art is an outward expression of herself. “Art has always been a means of expressing my thoughts and my inner being. I also write and feel that both painting and writing have a sort of play with one another. Some days, I cannot express myself visually, so I’ll write instead. Other times, I cannot think of the right words, so I use colors and mark-making as another form of expression. I do not like drawing very much, and I am not in the same place that I once was when it comes to ‘liking’ my pieces from this installation, but I think that’s what is so freeing about art. And I think that’s something important for other young artists, like myself, to understand. You do not always have to like what you make, or think it’s ‘good’. An essential element of practicing is getting those ideas out of your mind and materialized.”
She went on to say, “Painting is such an intimate practice for me. I feel the most at home with myself and my surroundings when I paint. I used to avoid color, but now I cannot avoid the possibilities that color brings.”
When asked about the future, Saunooke noted, “Ideally, having a studio practice while living somewhere in the city would happen after graduation. I plan to return to school for my MFA (Master of Fine Arts degree) and later teach in a high school or college setting.”
She appreciates the support she receives, “I am grateful to my parents, Cynthia and Brandon Saunooke, for always encouraging me to create artwork. My close friends always support me and are a true example of love.”