DIGITAL NATIVES depicts cultural expression inspired by the exploration of cultural heritage through art making and technology. The project helps bridge the digital gap that exists among Native American and Belgian migrant communities, and expands on notions of displacement, cultural identity, roots, community and multiculturalism. This exciting endeavor will be facilitated through a unique joint partnership between two leading institutions — Soul of Nations, a leading advocate for empowering Native Americans through culture and heritage, and BOZAR, an international arts organization promoting the arts, tangible and intangible cultural heritage and social inclusion in Belgium and beyond.

This project is built around an artistic reflection on the accessibility to technology and the representation of minorities historically — and today — online, explored through the prism of multiculturalism and cultural heritage. Ten Native American students and ten Belgian students from underrepresented communities (ages 18-30) participated in a seven month exchange from November 2018 through May 2019. Through art making, technology and exchange, these young student artists created individual and collaborative art projects showcased online and with public exhibitions in both the United States and Belgium.

DIGITAL NATIVES is an exploration that helps the young student artists to conceptualize how their cultures and heritages intersect within the framework of a number of issues pertaining to the access and deployment of digital tools, as well as representation in the popular imagination. The understanding of this phenomenon was actualized through the collaborative art projects realized through online and in person exchange.

The project is built around virtual exchange workshops and two in-person exchange. The workshops will be led by creatives active in various art disciplines: directors, visual artists, performative artists, script writers, filmmakers, slam poets, and young influencers. These mentors will guide the participants along the way and expose them to the power of a nuanced creative presence on digital platforms, which goes far beyond the stereotypical imagery, and enable participants to re-imagine contemporary

The overarching project goal is to connect and empower the young people, in both countries, through meaningful discussions and creative expression, thus presenting a futuristic approach to the enhancement of cultural heritage preservation and proliferation.

This exchange program was exclusive to the students of the Institute of American Indian Arts. 

FEELING EVERYTHING ALL AT ONCE is a creative output from a multi-layered artistic exchange project called DIGITAL NATIVES. The art project was created in collaboration between students who attend the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Belgian participants who partnered with the Institute of Sainte-Marie in Brussels, Belgium.

This creative collaboration was administered by BOZAR — Center for Fine Arts Brussels and Soul of Nations. Designed and built in the 1920’s by the famous art nouveau architect Victor Horta, BOZAR – Center for  Fine Arts features almost 4000 m² of exhibition space, Belgium’s most prestigious concert hall as well as various smaller theatre and multimedia spaces. The CFA welcomes more than a million visitors a year and is the arts center par excellence in the cultural landscape of Belgium, host country to the European institutions. As such it is uniquely positioned to act as an agent of cultural diplomacy and exchange in the context of today’s most pressing issues.

The Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) is the only four-year degree fine arts institution in the nation devoted to contemporary Native American arts. Since it was founded in 1962, IAIA has graduated over 3,000 students. The Institute welcomes students from the 573 federally-recognized tribes, as well as non-Native students, looking to obtain a world-class arts education. The school serves Native and non-Native American college students from across the globe. Through the concept of art as a traditional path of creativity, IAIA excels at building skills, provoking thought, and providing exceptional educational opportunities. IAIA is a place to embrace the past, enrich the present, and create the future.

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