A lot more than 20 many years following Penobscot Nation artists Jason Brown and Donna Decontie Brown 1st started producing and marketing jewellery as Decontie & Brown, the pair have hung up their pliers for now in favor of a more expansive, interdisciplinary way of building art.
Soon after the pandemic started out, Jason Brown threw his passion driving Firefly, a multimedia performance artwork challenge that for the earlier two decades has reworked his creative lifestyle. As a result of songs, video clip, dance and manner, Brown generates an immersive stay experience, drawing on ancestral Wabanaki tunes and imagery, but with a futuristic twist.
“It’s Indigenous futurism,” he mentioned. “Many folks believe of Indigenous folks as anything historic, or from the earlier. They don’t see us as current, and they absolutely sure as heck do not see us as futuristic. But we are here, and we will be below. 1 of the factors why I do this is to demonstrate that.”
The path to Firefly was a extended but unavoidable one particular. In 2016, Decontie & Brown started creating clothing and accessories in addition to jewellery, appearing in manner shows at main Native American artwork exhibits like the Santa Fe Indian Current market, the Heard Museum Guild Indian Current market in Phoenix, Arizona, and additional locally at the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor.
Brown designed his have audio for some of these demonstrates, spurring him to learn much more about recording and building soulful digital beats around which to sing and drum. The tunes them selves had been currently there, drawing on the historical Wabanaki new music he discovered a long time ago from tribal elders.
“There’s a explanation why these chants, these notes, these melodies have lasted for hundreds of a long time,” he claimed. “They could have modified a little little bit around the generations, but the unique power powering them flows through. We just set our individual taste on it and hand it forward. It’s all section of a continuation of this 13,000-12 months-outdated circle of creative imagination.”
Even though Brown and his spouse and imaginative companion Decontie Brown had discovered a wonderful offer of achievement in generating fantastic jewellery, when the pandemic struck, it altered anything for them. All the art exhibits they generally traveled to in the spring, summer months and fall had been canceled.
Bored and restless, Brown began web hosting dwell streams featuring himself singing and drumming in excess of those beats, donning some of the apparel models he and Decontie Brown built, and setting up evocative lighting in deep purples, blues, reds and greens — colours influenced by the gentle of fireflies, the aurora, and the night sky in typical.
His dwell streams ended up popular ideal off the bat, and Brown dubbed the project Firefly. Following a handful of months, it turned incredibly obvious to him that this was the path he required to go in creatively. In 2021, he and Decontie Brown made the conclusion to get started refocusing Decontie & Brown away from entirely jewellery and vogue, and towards currently being a “house of creativity” — a partnership that encompasses the structure, music, and video aspects of their do the job.
“COVID was a tragedy, but it also was a excellent reset for so several people today. It made so quite a few individuals reevaluate the matters in their life,” he explained. “I know it did for me.”
Due to the fact then, Brown has launched a quantity of tracks as Firefly, releasing his debut album, “Sacred Hearth,” previous 12 months. He has done stay shows throughout Maine and the region, which include various shows in Portland over the winter. In his reside reveals, he transforms venues into shimmering nighttime wonderlands, and he encourages audiences to participate in the singing and rhythmic features.
Previously this calendar year Brown also finished work as Firefly on a piece of digital video art termed “WABANAVIA,” that explores not just his Wabanaki heritage, but also Scandinavian roots, as he has ancestors from Sweden. The Portland Museum of Artwork ordered “WABANAVIA” in February as section of its everlasting assortment.
Even though Brown would make his audio and visible aspects, Donna Decontie Brown functions with him to craft and execute the live shows and deal with their business, though doing work as director of the Wabanaki Women’s Coalition. They’ve also been hectic transforming their Bangor home and studio into a hub of multimedia activity, and away from becoming a jewelry studio.
Not that Brown intends to give up jewelry producing permanently. It is what obtained him started out as an artist, and what set him on the route to Firefly.
“Just the other day I experienced to get my applications out so I could do a tiny repair on a piece I designed a handful of a long time in the past,” he stated. “It’s nice to try to remember that I have not misplaced my contact, even if my creativity is in a diverse place now.”
Firefly will upcoming perform on Saturday, June 18 at the Bangor Arts Trade, as portion of WERU-FM’s summer season live performance collection. For far more information and facts, go to fireflythehybrid.com.