Indigenous Arts in Focus: Conversation with Courtney M. Leonard and Frank Buffalo Hyde

January 2022

Moderated by Tailinh Agoyo of We Are The Seeds of CultureTrust

Courtney M. Leonard is a Shinnecock artist and filmmaker, whose work explores marine biology, Indigenous food sovereignty, migration, and human environmental impact. She is Assistant Professor of Art and Art History at St. Olaf’s College. Leonard’s current projects articulate the multiple definitions of the term breach and investigate and document Indigenous communities’ historical ties to water, marine life, and native cultures of subsistence. Leonard has been the recipient of numerous awards, fellowships, and residencies that include The Andy Warhol Foundation, The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, The Rasumon Foundation, The United States Art In Embassies Program, and The Native Arts and Culture Foundation.

Frank Buffalo Hyde (Onondaga Nation Beaver Clan) is recognized for breaking through the conceptual boundaries many place around Native American art. He defines himself as a Native American without being a stereotype, dealing with what he calls the "fragmented contemporary life" of a Native U.S. citizen. Buffalo Hyde marries futuristic iconography drawing from popular culture, technology and electronics with a bright pop art idiom to deconstruct stereotypical expectations and to question appropriations. Buffalo Hyde exhibits nationally and internationally in Russia, Japan and France, and his work is in the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, the Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe, and the Office of the Japanese Ambassador to the United States. 

Tailinh Agoyo is co-founder and director of We Are the Seeds of CultureTrust, a non-profit organization committed to amplifying Indigenous voices through the arts. Agoyo is also the host of 'Rise and Thrive', a radio show that honors the voices of Indigenous artists, performers, educators, and change-makers. She has worked in film and television for more than thirty years and helped produce the beautifully illustrated children’s book I Will Carry You in 2019. Her own artwork is focused on capturing the vibrancy of Indigenous people today, including The Warrior Project, a collection of photos of Native youth and their continuing commitment to environmental stewardship. In addition to these many projects and roles, she is mom to four wonderful children.


Frank Buffalo Hyde, Virtual Sovereignty #3- 72x60 acrylic on canvas 2021