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Indigenous International: Green Architecture Project

The Soul of Nations Foundation is excited to further expand the art engagement facet of our mission through the Indigenous International: Green Architecture Project (GAP). Indigenous International is the umbrella program created through the Soul of Nations Foundation’s Indigenous Arts Expansion Initiative which is aimed to help connect Indigenous youth with boundary-pushing cultural and artistic experiences around the world. 
Traditional forms of Indigenous art and architecture have often been misrepresented in mainstream media and academia. The majority of Indigenous communities reside in rural areas where they oftentimes build and live in structures constructed with materials that have been obtained locally and are considered “green.” These structures are created through the use of architectural techniques that have been utilized for generations. Unfortunately, a myth exists that Indigenous vernacular architecture is substandard, temporary, and for the impoverished. Indigenous communities from the Americas and Africa are continuously striving for environmental stability. However, these communities are often met with natural and governmental challenges that have threatened the traditional value of vernacular and cultural practices for residential styles of architecture.
When thinking broadly of architecture, the masterpieces of the past inevitably come to mind; buildings constructed to withstand the passage of time, that have found an ally in age, cementing themselves in the history of humanity. 

Indigenous International: Green Architecture Project 

The overarching objectives of the Green Architecture Project include: (1) empowering marginalized youth and communities via creative and artistic expression, (2) furthering the understanding of Indigenous cultural heritage; (3) creating an environment conducive to effective collaboration; (4) engaging in dialogue to gain a clearer understanding on what freedom and environmental stability look like while examining current setbacks; (5) utilizing culture as a vehicle to expand discourse; (6) strengthening an artistic and academic network among the participants; (7) examining historic challenges through a contemporary frame; and (8) encouraging personal growth and social awareness on a global scale.
Themes: environmental stability and indigenous futurism
Natalie Ball and Layo Bright are the selected artist mentors for the Indigenous International: Green Architecture Project. Natalie Ball is a Klamath/Modoc interdisciplinary artist based in Chiloquin, Oregon. She has a Bachelor’s degree with a double major in Ethnic Studies and Art from the University of Oregon. Layo Bright is a Nigerian contemporary artist who lives and works in New York. Layo works predominantly in the 3D realm, video, performance and sound. Recently. she has been interested in exploring migrant experiences, and the search for “greener pastures” to Europe and America.
Green Architecture Project Team  gap@soulofnations.org

Although the Soul of Nations Foundation staff remains optimistic for the success of all international programming, the health and safety of our program participants and team are top priorities. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be necessary to postpone projected activities for the Green Architecture Project. 

Current & Upcoming

The Indigenous International: Green Architecture Project in Kenya will present the opportunity for young Kenyan women artists and architects to connect with Indigenous American women artists and architects living in the United States through a nine-month cultural virtual exchange that will result in three collaborative online exhibitions.
The Indigenous International: Green Architecture Project in Nigeria presents the opportunity for Indigenous American and BIPOC women artists/architects from the Pueblo region of New Mexico to connect with ten young Nigerian women artists/architects living in Lagos. According to aesthetic and practical architectural standards of urban society, traditional housing structures of Indigenous American nations, in the southwestern region of the United States of America, utilize similar construction techniques of Nigerians when analyzing wigwam or Pueblo-style of architectural manifestation alongside the Hausa-style and  Yoruba-style.
The Indigenous International: Green Architecture Project in Bolivia presents the opportunity for young Indigenous American and BIPOC women artists/architects from the southwestern region of the United States to connect with up to young Bolivian women artists/architects living in La Paz. 

Previous Projects

The 2019-2021 Indigenous International: Green Architecture Project in Rwanda presented the opportunity for young Indigenous women artists/architects from the Americas to connect with 10 young Rwandan female artists/architects living in Kigali through a 18-month cultural exchange that had virtual and in-person components  that resulted in two collaborative online exhibitions.

Upcoming Exhibitions

American Indians of The Southwest is a three-part experimental film doused in contemporaneity and engulfed in dialectical rhetoric with an invitational observation on the current and ongoing social lifestyle of the Indigenous people in the Southwest through the eyes of FOX Maxy (Kumeyaay), Kymon Greyhorse (Diné), and Tytianna Harris (Diné). Through this visual experience, the artists convey the misrepresentation of the evolution in the Great Basin area and how this, in turn, relates to the “architecture” and day-to-day social functionaries throughout the Southwest region. The structure, style, and method of this film challenges its viewer’s preconceived notions on Indianess, modernized sanctity, and the wild west tropes that are often portrayed in Hollywood-based media.

Click here to register for the artist talk.

Click here to access the press kit.

Current Exhibitions

NURTURE: In the Life of an Indigenous Person is a six-piece collaborative installation that explores environmental stability and Indigenous futurism by focusing on the adolescent population of West Africa and their upbringing throughout formative years. Nigerian artists, Jaiyeola Oduyoye, Akorede Aremo, Oluchi Nwachukwu, Folabomi Animashaun, Itunu Omotoso, Adaku Emenike, Oluwamayowa Olomo, Omowunmi Ogundipe, Kosisochukwu Nwankwo (June), and Adekepemi Aderemi integrated natural and sustainable based artistic mediums to institute a diverse structure of creativity through weaving, sculpture, textiles, photography and film, and melodic poetry. The living legacy of Indigenous people is one of culture, history, and innovation that has shaped the very core of the world and set high standard of best nurturing and healing practices on this planet. NURTURE: In the Life of an Indigenous Person aims to inspire a culturally conscious environmental practice where the newly born are raised and surrounded by native, locally sourced, re-purposed elements created by Indigenous people and for Indigenous people, as well as create a nostalgic environment for other Indigenous stakeholders. It gives homage to the Nigerian way of life by showcasing architectural, design and artistic intellect by addressing three aspects — safety, impact, and expression.This collection of collaborative works provides avenue into practical and philosophical utilization processes of various forms of artistic expressions used to empower African women and Indigenous women with tools to possess a better understanding of place and space, life, history, and future.


Click here to access the Online Exhibition and Artist Talk.

Click here to access the press kit. 

UTA – KUYA: Back Home is a multidisciplinary installation comprising of six bodies of work ranging from photography and film, painting, sculpture, and digital renderings created by Bolivian contemporary artists, Wara Vargas Lara, Elias Huajlliri, Fatima Choque, Salvador Molina, Wara Apaza, and Nelida Condori. UTA – KUYA: Back Home explores the Imaginative theme of being able to walk without prejudice, without borders, and without a sense of time. As Indigenous contemporaries, we can easily inhabit our own worlds through a deep exploration of the past an altruistic reflection of the present. Historically, the Aymara Peoples, a large South American group Indigenous to the Altiplano, referred to the past as nayrapacha and nayra. The act of walking is indeed something quite courageous and could be held to the highest esteem of human endeavor. In fact, the Aymara referred to walking as quipnayr uñtasis sarnaqapxañani, an aphorism that declares the Homosapien urge to continuously transition through the present, while lightly observing peripheral view of the future-past. Thus, a participating in an eternal juggling act of carrying the future on one’s back all the while keeping the past in sight. This scared Aymara perception of walking can easily be interpreted as a metaphor for life.

Click here to see the works on view and artist talk. 

Click here to access the Press kit. 

Reclaiming Roots includes a collection of twelve plants indigenous to the United States that have been utilized within Native American communities for ceremonial, trade, and architectural purposes. Madeline Sanders (Mvskoke & Mojave) and Shasta Hampton (White Mountain Apache) pioneered the collection and repatriation of eternally ephemeral data that have been orally disseminated within their communities since time immemorial to then transmute the products of roots that could blossom in modernity. The digital renderings of natural products reveal how sacred elements that are often overlooked can help views reconnect to green ways of living. Over 200 drugs that have been or still are listed in the Pharmacopeia of the United States or the National Formulary were first used by Indigenous peoples, but neither reference acknowledges this fact. Thus, the tremendous benefits we’ve derived from Indigenous knowledge of native plant medicines go largely uncredited. With this in mind, it is necessary to pay homage to those who came before us and paved the path for a better future. The artists wish to center and focus our project on the importance of sustainable environments, Indigenous knowledge, and reclaiming their roots. In the 1800s, as westward expansion exposed Americans of European descent to new landscapes as well as the inevitable injuries and illnesses, Indigenous people often provided the explorers and settlers with herbal medicines that proved crucial to their survival. Today, Indigenous plants are central to improving dietary health for current generations.

Click here to view the installation.

Online Opening and Artist Talk link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87565533658

Click here to access the press kit.  


Renowned Indigenous Contemporary Artist, Natalie Ball, is a proud Soul of Nations Foundation partner for the Indigenous International: Green Architecture Project and will be leading an online artist critique zoom call to review selected works of the Bolivian and Nigerian Fellows participating in the Green Architecture Project. This review will be held on Thursday, November 11th at 2:00 PM (EST) and will primarily focus on film and photography works. All artists are Fellowship members of the Indigenous International: Green Architecture Project and created works focus on the concept of home, sovereignty, and environmental stability, and were manifested through a one-year cross-cultural virtual exchange. Special thanks to Natalie for standing in solidarity with the Soul of Nations Foundation by helping to cultivate a limitless safe space for Black and Indigenous creatives around the world. 

Click here to watch the call.

Click here to access the newsletter.  


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