Tom Jones, who grew up in the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin, focuses on Native American present and future while acknowledging how they can coexist with the past. In this multilayered portrait, he introduces us to Elizah Leonard, a champion dancer and recipient of an All-American Scholarship for wrestling.
Jones photographed Leonard wearing a Fancy Dance shawl, made by her mother, and a beaded necklace and earrings, made by her grandfather. He then sewed beads, rhinestones, and shells directly onto the print. Based on Ho-Chunk designs, the white beadwork references a scene the artist experienced during visits to a Sioux medicine man on the Rosebud reservation. Jones remembers being in a darkened room and seeing small lights appear as voices called out for their ancestors. Through the beads and the light that they reflect, Jones surrounds Leonard with an allusion to these spirits and to her intergenerational story.
Tom Jones (born 1964, Charlotte, North Carolina) Currently resides in Madison, Wisconsin
Inkjet print with beads, rhinestones, and shells, 2019 IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico; museum purchase, 2020