Statement: My culture and idea of home began in Alaska, moved and adopted Michigan, and ever since, has existed somewhere in between, amongst, and within a mixed cultural legacy. That legacy and my identity stem from many families: Athabascan, Iñupiaq, Finnish, Swedish, English, and Japanese. My origins include a lineage that I was born into, and a land I was removed from. My cultural limbo and precarious balances have molded my identity and fueled my art. Because of circumstance and chance, I became an emigrant from each home, adapting with each move. Constant moving and rootlessness are part of the American experience, but my near perpetual movement is an experience that lies within a larger history: the Native diaspora.
The idea of home becomes complicated and this is reflected in my work; I have formed multiple homes throughout this diaspora, each of them holding significance and meaning to me. This repetition of displacement, making homes, leaving and returning home cyclically, leads to a feeling of leading several lives, the idea of one’s self begins to divide into multiple perspectives. The qualities that tend to define my identity create an overlapping and blurring of borders; the multiplicity of selves becomes indivisible, not split or partial, not singular, but a flexible amalgamation of many. Mixed experiences differ with each generation; the description of one split between two worlds is a simplification of an idea that is much larger and complex. My experience may be multiple or mixed, but I am not incomplete in any location. My art explores the next wave of cultural examination, an evolution of new ways to demonstrate cultural identity beyond the polar ideas that exist within a strictly two-worlds discourse. Through my art, I hope to create dialogue that will help to redefine our selves, our communities, and our beliefs.
Bio: Erica Lord is originally from the village of Nenana, AK, and grew up between her home village and in Upper Michigan. She identifies as a mixed-race Native person, an identity drawn from a family of Athabaskan, Iñupiaq, Finnish, Japanese, Swedish, and English decent. An interdisciplinary artist, Lord explores concepts and issues that exist within a contemporary Indigenous experience and how culture and identity is affected in a rapidly changing world. In order to address a multiple or mixed identity, Lord uses a variety of media to construct new, ambiguous, or challenging representations of race. Erica received a B.A. from Carleton College and an MFA in Sculpture/Photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, the Alaska Native Arts Foundation Gallery, the Museum of Contemporary Native American Art in Santa Fe, and the Musée du Quai Branley in Paris. She currently lives in Fairbanks and works at the University of Alaska Fairbanks in the Art and Alaska Native Studies departments.