Amelia Winger-Bearskin is a Native American artist/technologist who helps communities leverage emerging technologies to effect positive change in the world. For five years, Amelia was a professor of time-based media art and performance art at Vanderbilt University before returning to NYC and graduating from NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program in 2015. Since then she has founded various projects and organizations: DBRS Innovation Lab, an applied research lab specialized in developing creative uses of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies; IDEA New Rochelle, an organization dedicated to incorporating an Arts and Technology District in New Rochelle and neighboring communities; Stupid Hackathon, which now holds events around the world. She’s been highly successful in her endeavors, being a former fellow at Oculus Launch Pad and currently holding fellowships at Sundance New Frontiers Story Lab and Sundance Institute Time Warner. In 2018, IDEA in partnership with the NR Mayor’s office was awarded the Bloomberg Mayors Challenge $1 million dollar grant to prototype their AR Citizen toolkit. The same year Amelia was awarded the Engadget Alternative Realities Prize for her VR experience Your Hands Are Feet, and was selected for a McArthur Grant through the Sundance Institute Native New Frontiers Story Lab for her 360 video story about Native American Monsters, co-directed with Wendy Red Star. The story was on display at Newark Museum from February 2019 to July 2019. She was a 2016 Artist in Residence at Pioneer Works and a member of the 2017-2018 cohort at NEW INC. Her art is part of the permanent collections of the Guggenheim Museum and the McCord Museum. She is currently a Senior Technical Training Specialist at Contentful in the SF Bay Area and the host of Contentful + Algolia's Developer Podcast DreamStacks in addition to her own podcast, wampum.codes.
For Messages for the City: Dreaming Forward
About What Is Made Bright By the Loss of Your Light?: “During the global pandemic, an increasingly contentious political landscape, the surge of energy and emotion that comes from rededicating ourselves to racial justice in this country… I've witnessed my incredible peers balance fear, bravery, a commitment to family, and to local and global communities of underrepresented people. I’ve seen them create art in response, new systems of support. But among my friends — especially my female-identifying and especially those of us who are mothers — many of us are being asked to do the undoable daily. I wanted a message as an artist to remind ourselves and to remind the world that through the process of change-making we can’t let ourselves become kindling. I don’t want us to burn out. All the crises in the world today are asking us to run more and more current through the little filaments of our minds and souls, but when those go out, does it leave the world a brighter place? Of course it doesn’t.
Audre Lorde talks about this in her “self-care as an act of radical protest” essay. In order to work and pay our rent are we expected to sacrifice our whole selves?. Even the current culture of self-care has more to do with increasing productivity- it’s an extractive ethic that is so prevalent in our culture. But what if the work of an artist is to sustain your community, to embody the better life you talk about and to foster it in your family and for your friends and neighbors?
Furthermore, it’s not inclusive. If you’re requiring everyone in our movement to be at maximum velocity all the time, you’re effectively excluding people with family commitments, people with jobs, people with disabilities of various kinds that prevent them from running themselves ragged for the cause. That’s not serving anyone, in my view: the social, economic, physical, political, intellectual demands - of a movement must bring with it the great care for and value of each human being who is part of it.”