Today we have the chance to speak with Raven Chacon, and to learn more about the experiences that have shaped his work across a variety of forms – from his music compositions, to his visual scores and installations, through to his leadership in the Native American Composer Apprentice Project and his piece American Ledger No. 2, currently on view at the Plains Art Museum.
Raven Chacon's artist site:
This conversation moves across an array of lands and traditions– from Navajo Nation to Aristotle’s Lyceum, from string quartets to heavy metal – and a presence that connects many of the pieces Raven discusses is his time as a guest with the Water Protectors at Standing Rock in 2016. Afterwards, he reflected on the experience, he wrote this:
“The camps became the imagined microcosm of a North America where we were still the majority, self-sustained and self-governed, no other direct action than simply being alive and retaining our ways. What became apparent—even in the short time I was there and under the shadow of militaristic surveillance—was a shared experience: remembering one’s identity, while at the same time re-imagining who we aimed to be. What was achieved there was not a funneling of a pan-Indian sameness, but rather a radial explosion of every potential dreamt history.”
Raven Chacon is a composer, performer and installation artist from Fort Defiance, Navajo Nation. As a solo artist, collaborator, or with the Postcommodity, he has exhibited or performed at a wide range of institutions and spaces including the Whitney Biennial, documenta 14, San Francisco Electronic Music Festival, Chaco Canyon, and The Kennedy Center. Every year, he teaches 20 students to write string quartets for the Native American Composer Apprentice Project (NACAP). Raven is the recipient of the United States Artists fellowship in Music, The Creative Capital award in Visual Arts, The Native Arts and Cultures Foundation artist fellowship, and the American Academy’s Berlin Prize for Music Composition.
Works and connections mentioned in this episode:
// Native American Composers Apprentice Project (excellent feature here by NPR Performance Today):
// An Anthology of Chants Operations LP:
// The Ears Between Worlds are Always Speaking installation in Athens, Greece:
// Dispatch, a collaboration with Candice Hopkins:
// STTLMNT, An Indigenous Digital World Wide Occupation:
// American Ledger No. 2:
// For Zitkála Šá series of prints at Crow's Shadow Institute for the Arts
// Hungry Listening: Resonant Theory for Indigenous Sound Studies
// Radio Alhara: