Untouchable Artifacts Curator’s Talk

Curator’s Talk with Rya Drake-Hueston and Kat Salas; moderated by Lehuauakea

This virtual event took place on September 18, 2021.


About this Event


Untouchable Artifacts: A Virtual and Printed Exhibition on Indigenous Storytelling, History, and Resilience is a love letter to the art, practice, and importance of indigenous storytelling on Turtle Island. In the exhibition, eleven indigenous artists continue the tradition of storytelling through their own unique lens. This exhibition is created by Five Oaks Museum’s 2021 Guest Curators Rya Drake-Hueston (Diné) and Kat Salas (Chiricahua, Apache).


In this curator’s talk, the duo will share about the process of creating the exhibition, how their backgrounds influenced their decision making, and the significance of the recorded stories featured in the exhibition.


Rya Drake-Hueston is Diné descended from Paiute and Hopi Ancestry from Navajo Mountain, UT. A sculptor, painter and performer, she uses her background in conservation and historical restoration to inform her artistic practice. Her body of work engages with cultural erasure, historical white-washing, and her family’s experiences with the boarding school system at the turn of the 20th century.


Kat Salas is a multi-racial Chicana and Chiricahua Apache femme born in Gallup New Mexico. They describe their interdisciplinary practice as a desire to see art as a tool for revolution, braiding their work as an organizer and activist with their experience in the world of contemporary art. After spending much of her youth in the Adult Industry, Salas currently works at a mentorship program for youth survivors of Sex Trafficking and is a practicing tattooer wherein they fuse traditional indigenous hand poke tattooing with Chicano style single needle work.


Lehuauakea is a mixed-Native Hawaiian interdisciplinary artist from Pāpaʻikou on Moku O Keawe, the Big Island of Hawaiʻi. Their art practice serves as a means of reflection on cultural and biological ecologies, spectrums of identity, and what it means to build a life rooted in Indigenous sustainability and traditional practices. With a particular focus on the labor-intensive making of ʻohe kāpala, kapa cloth, and natural pigments, Lehua ensures this mode of Indigenous storytelling is carried well into the future.


View recording below.