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Home / Articles / Arts / Picks /  Ride 'em Purdy
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Courtesy SFAI

Ride 'em Purdy

Dylan Miner delivers museum-quality bikes

August 6, 2013, 12:00 am
Artist, historian and adjunct curator of indigenous art at the Michigan State University Museum, Dylan Miner appreciates finding beauty in the mundane. This month, Miner will work closely with local youths, building a series of lowrider bicycles as a part of an ongoing series he calls Anishnaabensag Biimskowebshkigewag 
(Native Kids Ride Bikes). Alongside the project, Miner also plans to unveil a bike-centric art exhibit at the Santa Fe Art Institute and give a guest lecture on Aug. 12 titled “Art, History, Memory: Artistic Practice in an Age of Ongoing Colonialisms.” SFR spoke with the artist regarding his uniquely hands-on approach.         

What motivates you to build these bikes?
I grew up building lowrider bikes in Michigan. I am Métis (indigenous person of mixed Cree and French descent), but raised alongside Chicano and Mexicano farm workers. Our communities have shared histories of indigeneity, and I explore that through the bikes. So these bikes are based on traditional knowledge, both Native and Chicano (who I see as an indigenous people). By collaborating with youth, in a language they can understand, I make sure that traditional knowledge is maintained in the present. The bikes I am building in Santa include mini-seedbanks and iaee bikes—corn, beans and squash. They always engage history and sustainability.

What have you learned along the way?
I’ve learned many things, often getting as much from my youth collaborators as they get from me. In Michigan, Anishinaabemowin-speaking elders worked with the youth, while in Vancouver, emerging Native artists built the bikes. Each of these circumstances imparts its own set of learned skills and knowledge.  

What do the kids take away from the experience?
In some places, they actually take away a bike. I hope to do this again here next summer, where the youth will keep the bike they build. I just did it this way in Canada last month. I think they learn bike-building skills, create new social relationships and begin thinking about traditional knowledge. We also talk about migration stories, sustainable transportation and healthy lifestyles. Hopefully, some of this sticks.  

Your exhibit in Santa Fe spans several locations. Why is this?
By situating the bikes around the city, and outside of usual art galleries, I hope we can break down the usual barriers that exist between the art world and those outside of it.  

What can people attending your lecture expect?
For those making it to SFAI, they will hear me dropping some knowledge about art and its social and political roles. I will show a video about my work and hopefully ruffle some feathers. I am a member of the printmaking collective Justseeds, so radical politics will be involved.

Anishnaabensag Biimskowebshkigewag
6 pm Monday, Aug. 12. $5-$10
SFAI, 1600 St. Michael’s Drive,
424-5050

 

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