Art is an important and inseparable part of Wild & Scenic Film Festival. We are extremely excited to announce the official artist for WSFF 2021: Stephanie Littlebird Fogel! Stephanie is an indigenous artist, writer, and maker hailing from Portland, Oregon. Drawing connections between our collective past and imminent future, Fogel mixes her own tribal traditions with contemporary materials and subject matter.
Fogel graduated from the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon (2015), her work has been featured by the United Nations, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), The Oregon Bee Project, and the U.S. Postal Service.
We are so pleased to share the official 2021 poster artwork that she has created for the 19th annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival (January 14-24, 2021). This original piece was commissioned for the festival with the theme of “Resilient by Nature” in mind, and was painted on a gorgeous wood panel:
Tell us about yourself. Who is Stephanie Littlebird?
SL: I am an Indigenous artist, writer, and curator from Portland, Oregon. I belong to the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and much of the work I make is related to my Native Two Spirit identity, responsible land stewardship, and BIPOC social issues.
How did you first learn about SYRCL and WSFF?
SL: I learned about the organization and the film festival during my 2020 Artist Fellowship with N.O.A.A. Fisheries. I was lucky enough to sit in on a meeting between the two groups and we hit it off!
What excited you about making art for WSFF?
SL: Honestly, these are the kind of jobs I live for. Working for a good cause is the ultimate reward. My favorite projects are collaborative ones, where people from many different backgrounds or disciplines come together to create something meaningful. The imagery I created in concert with WSFF is an amalgamation of many conversations and brainstorming sessions. The final product was guided by both the artist and SYRCL, therefore it expresses a unique complexity that can only be born from collaboration.
Can you walk us through the artwork you created for the 2020 Wild & Scenic Film Festival? What elements are represented and why?
SL: The theme for the 2021 WSFF is “Resilient By Nature” and is intended to encompass all aspects of nature, including the human form. By combining the human figure with the landscape and animals, I tried to convey the inseparability between humans and the environment. As I write this, wildfires rage up and down the West Coast, including in my ancestral homelands. So, the underlying message seems all the more imperative to reiterate: humans are very much connected to the earth and we must do more to protect and preserve the lands we inhabit, so we might protect and preserve ourselves.
Your artwork often revolves around a human or animal presence. Can you tell us about your approach to painting and why those forms are important to you and your work?
SL: My visual style combines the traditional totem styles of my Indigenous ancestors from the Pacific Northwest with contemporary illustration aesthetics. I see my work as a bridge between the past and present, mixing the Iconic totem pole styles of my predecessors with my own graphic and vibrant perspective.
How does being an indigenous woman inform your artwork?
SL: As a young Native girl, there wasn’t a lot of representation in the media for me to identify with. Most depictions of Indigenous women in movies, books, and TV often reify racial stereotypes. As a professional artist, I strive to consciously create imagery that represents contemporary Indigenous life with honor and honesty. I want all women, and particularly young Native women to see affirming and healing reflections of themselves in the world.
You and Wild & Scenic Film Festival have somewhat of a shared mission to use art to inspire/galvanize/educate/embolden people towards sustainability and environmental advocacy. How did you discover the intersection of art and activism, and why is it crucial in this moment?
SL: Art has always been a medium for change, when I think back to many of the high watermarks in human history, art was instrumental in bringing about those paradigm shifts. Take for example the Gutenberg printing press and the democratization of knowledge, it is human nature to explore and experiment, to change and evolve. Art enables us to explore our wildest dreams and ideas and if we’re lucky – maybe even manifest them.
Our Festival’s tagline is “Where activism gets inspired.” What inspires you?
SL: I am inspired by the resiliency of nature and humans to survive and evolve, I am inspired by artists and makers, rule breakers and renegades. The idea that I can wake up tomorrow a more evolved version of myself is what keeps me going towards my dreams.
What does our theme this year, “Resilient by Nature” mean to you, and how is it represented in this piece?
SL: Interconnectivity is a central part of this piece. The word “nature” does not exclude humans, we are not apart from the environment but very much entangled. While “nature” as a Western construct is viewed through a lens of separation, this is false. Humans, no matter their creed or origins are inextricably linked to the land and our survival is tethered to the creatures we share it with.
Watch Stephanie creating the 2021 artwork: