Teach Me a Song

/ Opening @ 7pm

Performance of Wampum / ᎠᏕᎳ ᏗᏕᎫᏗ: Nov 23, 3pm

Artist and composer Elisa Harkins presents a series of songs and sculptures at Western Front that build on her ongoing interests in translation, language preservation, and Indigenous musicology. Harkins’ new work is structured on a series of exchanges, wherein she invites collaborators to teach her a song. With the recordings of these songs—which may be ceremonial, religious, rock & roll, electronic, etc.—Harkins’ practice of nation to nation sharing and trading music is presented as a means of decolonizing traditions of Indigenous musicology.

Accompanying her exhibition at Western Front, Harkins will be making a performance on Saturday, 23 November in the Grand Luxe Hall. Wampum / ᎠᏕᎳ ᏗᏕᎫᏗ is an ongoing project where Elisa Harkins sings in a combination of Cherokee, English and Muscogee Creek to electronic dance music, some of which is inspired by of sheet music of Indigenous music notated by Daniel Chazanoff during the 20th century. As an act of Indigenous Futurism, it combines disco and Indigenous language in an effort to alter the fate of these endangered languages through active use. For this iteration of Wampum / ᎠᏕᎳ ᏗᏕᎫᏗ, Harkins will be joined by dancers Hanako Hoshimi-Caines and Zoë Poluch.

Associated Event
In addition to her projects at Western Front Harkins, along with Hanako Hoshimi-Caines and Zoë Poluch, will be presenting their collaborative performance Radio III / ᎦᏬᏂᏍᎩ ᏦᎢ with Plastic Orchid Factory on Sunday, November 24. Details and tickets can be found at Plastic Orchid factory’s website. Seating is extremely limited for this, so please get your tickets in advance!


Artist Biography
Elisa Harkins is a Cherokee/Muscogee artist and composer originally hailing from Miami, Oklahoma. Harkins received her BA from Columbia College Chicago and her MFA from the California Institute of the Arts. She has since continued her education at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Her work is concerned with translation, language preservation, and Indigenous musicology. Harkins uses the Muscogee and Cherokee languages, electronic music, sculpture, and the body as her tools. She has exhibited her work at documenta 14, The Broad Museum, The Gilcrease Museum, The Hammer Museum, Missoula Art Museum, MCA Chicago, and MOCA North Miami. Harkins is currently a mentor at the School of the Art Institute Chicago, she is a Tulsa Artist Fellow, and she is an enrolled member of the Muscogee (Creek) tribe.