Dezeen Magazine

Final talk in Exhibit Columbus series discusses Indigenous design in the US

Exhibit Columbus concluded its New Middles symposium with a live conversation broadcast on Dezeen that explored the past and future of Midwest landscapes and Indigenous design.

The discussion, called New Middles: Indigenous Futures and Radical Thinking, was moderated by Dezeen columnist and Exhibit Columbus curator Mimi Zeiger.

She was joined by a panel of experts including designer Chris Cornelius, The Land Institute co-founder Wes Jackson, artist-architect Joar Nango and speculative artist and designer Ash Eliza Smith.

"A long timeline is central to this conversation, which asks: what are the lessons – past and future – of this land and Indigenous design?" said the curators.

"How might alternative voices and perspectives in relations to land, agriculture and ways of making reimagine North American narratives?"

Portrait of Mimi Zeiger
Exhibit Columbus curator Mimi Zeiger will moderate the New Middles: Indigenous Futures and Radical Thinking discussion

The talk was the final instalment in a series of conversations live-streamed on Dezeen, which were produced in collaboration with Exhibit Columbus – an initiative that explores architecture, art, community and design in Columbus, Indiana, through an annual symposium and free public exhibition.

This year's symposium, called New Middles, looked at the designed future of the regions connected by the Mississippi River.

Zeiger is a Los Angeles-based critic, editor and curator. In 2018, she co-curated the US Pavilion for the Venice Architecture Biennale.

In addition to featuring on Dezeen, Zeiger has also penned articles that have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the Architectural Review, among other publications.

In 2015, she received the Bradford Williams Medal for excellence in writing about landscape architecture.

Outside of writing, Zeiger is also a faculty member at SCI-Arc and the Media Design master's programme at the ArtCenter College of Design.

Portrait of Chris Cornelius
Designer Chris Cornelius will join the panel

Cornelius is a citizen of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and an associate professor of architecture at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

He is also the founding principal of Studio:indigenous, a design practice serving Indigenous clients, and was a collaborating designer with architect Antoine Predock on the Indian Community School, Milwaukee.

Cornelius' work has been exhibited in the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale and has won several awards, including Exhibit Columbus' inaugural J.Irwin and Xenia S.Miller Prize in 2017.

In 2021, he is due to start as the Louis I Khan visiting assistant professor of Architectural Design at Yale University.

Portrait of Wes Jackson
The Land Institute founder Wes Jackson will be the second panellist

Jackson is the co-founder of The Land Institute, a research organisation working to develop an alternative to current destructive agricultural practices that he established in 1976.

Jackson is the author of numerous articles and books and the work of The Land Institute has featured in such publications as National Geographic and Time Magazine.

Jackson has received six honorary doctorates for the work of the Land Institute and was named by Life magazine as one of the 18 individuals predicted to be among the 100 "most important Americans of the 20th century".

Portrait of Joar Nango
Joar Nango will join the talk as the third panellist

Nango is a Sámi-Norwegian architect-cum-visual artist. His work draws from both Western culture and his Sámi heritage and involves site-specific performances and structural installations that explore the intersection of architecture and visual art.

Nango is the co-founder of architecture collective FFB, which creates temporary installations in urban settings.

He has exhibited his work internationally and one of his recent projects was European Everything (2017) at Documenta 14 in Athens, Greece, as well as Kassel in Germany.

Portrait of Anne Smith
The fourth speaker will be artist and researcher Ash Eliza Smith

Smith is an artist-researcher who uses storytelling, world-building and speculative design to explore new realities.

She works across art and science, and with human and non-human entities with the aim of reimagining past and future technologies, systems, and rural and urban ecologies.

Outside her art practice, she is also an assistant professor of Emerging Media Arts at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

This conversation was produced by Dezeen in collaboration with Exhibit Columbus as part of its New Middles online symposium, which ran until 29 October 2020.

The first talk in the series, which was moderated by Dezeen's founder Marcus Fairs, futurist Dan Hill and Radha Mistry who explored design's use of strategic foresight and storytelling.

The second instalment discussed how landscape architecture could help cities in the Mississippi Watershed to adapt to climate change, while the third talk looked at how creativity empowers communities.

Find out more about the symposium ›