Jeremy Dennis (b. 1990) is a contemporary fine art photographer and a member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation. In his work, he explores indigenous identity, assimilation, and tradition from the lens of a millennial.
Dennis was one of 10 recipients of a 2016 Dreamstarter Grant from the national non-profit organization Running Strong for American Indian Youth. He was awarded $10,000 to pursue his project, On This Site, which uses photography and an interactive online map to showcase culturally significant Native American sites on Long Island, a topic of special meaning for Dennis, who was raised on the Shinnecock Nation Reservation. He also created a book and exhibition from this project. Most recently, Dennis received the Creative Bursar Award from Getty Images in 2018 to continue his series Stories.
In 2013, Dennis began working on the series, Stories—Indigenous Oral Stories, Dreams and Myths. Inspired by North American indigenous stories, the artist staged supernatural images that transform these myths and legends to depictions of an actual experience in a photograph.
Residencies: Yaddo (2019, Byrdcliffe Artist Colony (2017), North Mountain Residency, Shanghai, WV (2018), MDOC Storytellers’ Institute, Saratoga Springs, NY (2018). Eyes on Main Street Residency & Festival, Wilson, NC (2018), Watermill Center, Watermill, NY (2017) and the Vermont Studio Center hosted by the Harpo Foundation (2016).
He has been part of several group and solo exhibitions, including Stories—Dreams, Myths, and Experiences, for The Parrish Art Museum’s Road Show (2018), Stories, From Where We Came, The Department of Art Gallery, Stony Brook University (2018); Trees Also Speak, Amelie A. Wallace Gallery, SUNY College at Old Westbury, NY (2018); Nothing Happened Here, Flecker Gallery at Suffolk County Community College, Selden, NY (2018); On This Site: Indigenous People of Suffolk County, Suffolk County Historical Society, Riverhead, NY (2017); Pauppukkeewis, Zoller Gallery, State College, PA (2016); and Dreams, Tabler Gallery, Stony Brook, NY (2012).
Dennis holds an MFA from Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA, and a BA in Studio Art from Stony Brook University, NY.
Currently living and working in Southampton, New York on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation.
The essential issues I work toward resolving are indigenous identity, assimilation, and tradition. Throughout my analysis of American history and post-colonialism thinking that influence my work, I constantly question and disrupt social norms, popular culture references and historic narratives in relation to indigenous people. By looking towards the past, I’m able to trace the source of issues that plague Native American communities today, and work towards creating an awareness of histories and interactions between contemporary America and a seemingly distant culture. Much of these question arise inherently by living in the environment that many indigenous people face; growing up on a reservation, omissions of relevant history in education, and subtle cultural influences.
A major theme of my work is indigenous mythology. The stories that influence my imagery serve as a method of looking into the minds of my ancestors and getting a glimpse of their views and values. These images provide an alternative to the testimony of western histories and religions. While preserving cultural identity in these stories, I am also able to defend the land we all occupy, giving it spiritual recognition and presenting our environment in an importance that is not so different than ourselves. On the most fundamental level, myths explained the uncertainties of nature and the chaos that controls our lives. While science has resolved many of our curiosities about natural phenomenon, the question of identity still remains unsolved. In an environment that seems so eager to move past conflicts of race and such far-away histories, myth grants a sense of community and place in the universe.
Using digital photography, I create images that reference the most common depict of indigenous people, the cinema. Utilizing its ability to charm and influence the viewer through curiosity and pleasing lighting, I attempt to create conversations about uncomfortable themes of post-colonialism in a Hollywood film style.
1990 Born in Southampton, New York
2016 MFA, Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA
2013 BA in Studio Art, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook NY
2018 Nothing Happened Here, Suffolk County Community College, Selden, NY
2017 East Hampton Indigenous, Guild Hall, East Hampton, NY
Indigenous People of Suffolk County, Suffolk County Historical Society, Riverhead, NY
On This Site, Contemporary Art Gallery at the Shinnecock Cultural Center and Museum, Southampton, NY
2016 Pauppukkeewis, Zoller Gallery, Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA
2012 Dreams, Tabler Gallery, Stony Brook, NY
2018 80th Artist Members Exhibition, Guild Hall, East Hampton, NY
Eyes on Main Street – 4th Edition, Wilson, NC
Trees Also Speak, Amelie A. Wallace Gallery, Old Westbury, NY
2017 Honoring Mother Earth, Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Cultural Center, Mashantucket, CT
Aazhooman, Watermark Art Center, Bemidji, MN
Race, Love, and Labor, Zuccaire Gallery, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY
Open Studios, Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild (AIR) Program, Woodstock, NY
Creative Nation II, Ellsworth Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
Of Memory, Bone & Myth, University of ND, Grand Forks, ND
First Nations Film and Video Festival Inc Spring Festival, Chicago, IL
Southampton Scenes III, Southampton, NY
2016 SWING State, Little Berlin Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
What Keeps You Up at Night? SPE MCC Portfolio, San Francisco, CA
It Must Have Been Love, Vermont Studio Center, Johnson VT
Truth and Reconciliation in Concert, Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA
Tradition & Innovation, Hera Gallery, Wakefield, RI
Odd Couples, Zoller Gallery, State College, PA
Broad Horizons, Hump Day Gallery, State College, PA
The Shinnecock Nation Cultural Enrichment Program, Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock, NY
2015 Instinct: Why did you make that? The Parliament Gallery, York, PA
New Directions, Fraser Street Gallery, State College, PA
Why Are You Here? Zoller Gallery, State College, PA
Graduate Research Exhibition, Hub Gallery, State College, PA
Lucid Dreams, Fraser Street Gallery, State College, PA
First Year MFA Exhibition, Zoller Gallery, State College, PA
2014 Intertribal Arts and Cultural Showcase, Lyceum Gallery, Riverhead, NY
ECNU Resilience, East China Normal University Gallery, Shanghai, China
2018 Nothing Happened Here, Jeremy Dennis, Suffolk County Community College, Exhibition Catalog
2017 Dennis, Jeremy. On This Site, Blurb Inc.
2015 Dennis, Jeremy. Behind the Dance, Indigenous Portraits, Blurb Inc.
2012 Dennis, Jeremy. Dreams, Blurb Inc.
2017 Fiona Cashell, Landscape, “Memory and Myth: An Interview with Native American Artist, Jeremy Dennis,”
Studies in Arts and Humanities Journal, 2017
Mark Segal, “Jeremy Dennis: Illuminating Indigenous Mythology,” The East Hampton Star, October 25, 2017
2018 North Mountain Residency, Shanghai, WV
Eyes on Main Street, Wilson, NC
2017 Peconic Landing, Greenport, NY
Watermill Center, Watermill, NY
Center for Photography at Woodstock, Woodstock, NY
2016 Saltonstall Artist Residency, Ithaca, NY
Mohegan Field School, Connecticut College, CT
Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT
Honors & Awards
2018 40 Under 40 – Stony Brook University, Tribeca Rooftop, NY
2017 Parrish Art Museum – Featured Panelist for; Art, Community, and Collaboration: An East End Discussion and Honorarium
2016 Speaker Honorarium at First Native American Heritage Awareness Program, Stony Brook University, NY
Harpo Foundation Native American Residency Fellowship
SPEMA Student Travel Grant, 2016 SPE National Conference, Las Vegas NV
Running Strong for American Indian Youth, cofounded by Billy Mills, Dreamstarter Award
2015 69th Annual Shinnecock Powwow Program Cover, Southampton NY
2013 Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences’ Purchase Award, Stony Brook University, NY
2008 Native American People Scholarship, Stony Brook University, NY
New York State Museum
Talkhouse Music Hall
Center for Photography at Woodstock