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Photo: Whitney Legge

With DeLesslin “Roo” George-Warren
Any pronouns
Date and place of birth
b. 1991, South Carolina
Current location
Catawba Nation, South Carolina
Year(s) of residency and/or fellowship
202122, Democracy Machine Fellow

How do you characterize the media you work in?

I spend a lot of my time working in my community, Catawba Indian Nation, on language revitalization and eco-cultural revitalization. That looks like a lot of fun things, like kids’ songs that we’ve composed, or teaching words in Catawba. I also present tours of collections and museums that foreground stories of Indigenous peoples, colonization, and survivance.

How does your practice engage with technology?

I’m passionate about getting tribes and Indigenous communities to see that they already have the capacity within their communities in the form of young people, people who have an affinity for technology, to start asserting their sovereignty in technological spaces. One way we’ve done that is through the development of our Catawba language app, so that we can actually control how our people are learning with it and what happens with that data.

What was your focus during your time at Eyebeam?

I’ve been developing a piece on open.eyebeam that features different mushrooms that you can find in the field; when you go up to a mushroom and click on it, you’ll find a text that’s associated with it. You can edit it, change it, delete it, do whatever you want to it—and when you do, it creates a new sporulation. And so, the mushroom changes, and that edit that you’ve made is forever in that database. I’m hoping to create a sense of proximity with other people interacting with the space, and the sense that their impacts are changing your experience of it.

Video: Whitney Legge

Was there a culminating project?

My concluding project was creating a field of digital fungus based on inputs by visitors to the Eyebeam Fractal Fellowship digital space.

How has dialogue or collaboration with Eyebeam artists and alumni factored into your work?

I am a peer evaluator for the remainder of this cycle and then I will serve as a mentor. In this cohort, we wanted to move away from a fellowship framework and toward this idea of growing community. Fungi have two primary modes for spreading: laterally, and by sporulation, which is where the fungi throw spores into the air with some sort of exuberance. Our public events have been more of that kind of sporulation type thing where we don’t know where it’ll land, we don’t know if things will come of it, but it’s still an act that we’re doing, an act of exuberance. We’re also thinking about building the cohort out further and recruiting the new group and saying: “Hey, these are people that we know are doing amazing work and need support. We know that they would bring amazing things to Eyebeam. So, let’s move out laterally in that way.”

How do you think about the role of the artist in society?

In Catawba we don’t have a word for “artist” that is separate from other responsibilities, like teaching, so I’ve always seen my work as an artist as a means to cultivating consciousness, resilient communities, and a more beautiful future.

Eyebeam models a new approach to artist-led creation for the public good; we are a non-profit that provides significant professional support and money to exceptional artists for the realization of important ideas that wouldn’t exist otherwise. Nobody else is doing this.

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