Celebrated Wabanaki designers dropped jewelry for a new art form
A lot more than 20 yrs after Penobscot Nation artists Jason Brown and Donna Decontie Brown first began building and advertising jewelry as Decontie & Brown, the pair have hung up their pliers for now in favor of a more expansive, interdisciplinary way of making art.
Soon soon after the pandemic started out, Jason Brown threw his enthusiasm at the rear of Firefly, a multimedia effectiveness art challenge that for the earlier two several years has remodeled his artistic everyday living. Via music, movie, dance and trend, Brown results in an immersive are living knowledge, drawing on ancestral Wabanaki music and imagery, but with a futuristic twist.
“It’s Indigenous futurism,” he reported. “Many individuals imagine of Indigenous people today as a little something historic, or from the past. They don’t see us as current, and they positive as heck really do not see us as futuristic. But we are below, and we will be listed here. 1 of the causes why I do this is to clearly show that.”
The path to Firefly was a very long but inescapable a person. In 2016, Decontie & Brown began building outfits and add-ons in addition to jewelry, showing in fashion exhibits at big Native American artwork shows like the Santa Fe Indian Industry, the Heard Museum Guild Indian Industry in Phoenix, Arizona, and much more domestically at the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor.
Brown established his very own tunes for some of all those demonstrates, spurring him to learn much more about recording and producing soulful digital beats about which to sing and drum. The songs them selves have been presently there, drawing on the historical Wabanaki new music he realized a long time back from tribal elders.
“There’s a rationale why these chants, these notes, these melodies have lasted for hundreds of a long time,” he claimed. “They could have transformed a minimal little bit above the generations, but the first energy behind them flows through. We just set our very own taste on it and hand it ahead. It’s all component of a continuation of this 13,000-calendar year-old circle of creative imagination.”
Although Brown and his wife and innovative associate Decontie Brown had found a excellent deal of achievement in making fantastic jewelry, when the pandemic struck, it improved all the things for them. All the art displays they usually traveled to in the spring, summer months and drop ended up canceled.
Bored and restless, Brown began internet hosting are living streams that includes himself singing and drumming in excess of all those beats, carrying some of the apparel layouts he and Decontie Brown produced, and setting up evocative lights in deep purples, blues, reds and greens — colors influenced by the mild of fireflies, the aurora, and the evening sky in common.
His reside streams were being common proper off the bat, and Brown dubbed the job Firefly. Right after a couple months, it turned really crystal clear to him that this was the way he needed to go in creatively. In 2021, he and Decontie Brown produced the final decision to commence refocusing Decontie & Brown away from exclusively jewelry and vogue, and toward currently being a “house of creativity” — a partnership that encompasses the structure, songs, and online video aspects of their get the job done.
“COVID was a tragedy, but it also was a fantastic reset for so many individuals. It created so a lot of folks reevaluate the things in their life,” he stated. “I know it did for me.”
Considering that then, Brown has produced a quantity of tunes as Firefly, releasing his debut album, “Sacred Fireplace,” previous 12 months. He has performed reside shows across Maine and the place, together with various reveals in Portland more than the wintertime. In his are living exhibits, he transforms venues into shimmering nighttime wonderlands, and he encourages audiences to participate in the singing and rhythmic aspects.
Previously this 12 months Brown also completed function as Firefly on a piece of electronic video clip artwork referred to as “WABANAVIA,” that explores not just his Wabanaki heritage, but also Scandinavian roots, as he has ancestors from Sweden. The Portland Museum of Art bought “WABANAVIA” in February as section of its long lasting assortment.
Even though Brown would make his new music and visible components, Donna Decontie Brown works with him to craft and complete the live displays and control their organization, although functioning as director of the Wabanaki Women’s Coalition. They’ve also been busy reworking their Bangor home and studio into a hub of multimedia exercise, and away from getting a jewellery studio.
Not that Brown intends to give up jewelry generating endlessly. It is what bought him started off as an artist, and what place him on the path to Firefly.
“Just the other day I had to get my instruments out so I could do a little repair on a piece I created a couple several years ago,” he stated. “It’s pleasant to recall that I have not dropped my touch, even if my creativeness is in a unique position now.”
Firefly will upcoming carry out on Saturday, June 18 at the Bangor Arts Trade, as component of WERU-FM’s summer season live performance series. For far more info, visit fireflythehybrid.com.