About Me

Jeremy Dennis (b. 1990) is a contemporary fine art photographer and a tribal member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation in Southampton, NY. In his work, he explores indigenous identity, culture, and assimilation.

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.

He currently lives and works in Southampton, New York on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation.

Linkedin

Resume / CV

Statement

My photography explores indigenous identity, cultural assimilation, and the ancestral traditional practices of my tribe, the Shinnecock Indian Nation. Though science has solved many questions about natural phenomena, questions of identity are more abstract, the answers more nuanced. My work is a means of examining my identity and the identity of my community, specifically the unique experience of living on a sovereign Indian reservation and the problems we face.

Digital photography lets me create cinematic images. Nowhere have indigenous people been more poorly misrepresented than in American movies. My images question and disrupt the post-colonial narrative that dominates in film and media and results in damaging stereotypes, such as the “noble savage” depictions in Disney’s Pocahontas. As racial divisions and tensions reach a nationwide fever pitch, it’s more important to me than ever to offer a complex and compelling representation of indigenous people. I like making use of the cinema’s tools, the same ones directors have always turned against us (curiously familiar representations, clothing that makes a statement, pleasing lighting), to create conversations about uncomfortable aspects of post-colonialism. For example, in my 2016 project, “Nothing Happened Here,” stylized portraits of non-indigenous people impaled by arrows symbolize, in a playful way, the “white guilt” many Americans have carried through generations, and the inconvenience of co-existing with people their ancestors tried to destroy.

By looking to the past, I trace issues that plague indigenous communities back to their source. For example, research for my ongoing project “On This Site” entailed studying archaeological and anthropological records, oral stories, and newspaper archives. The resulting landscape photography honors Shinnecock’s 10,000-plus years’ presence in Long Island, New York. Working on that collection has left me with a better understanding of how centuries of treaties, land grabs, and colonialist efforts to white-wash indigenous communities have led to our resilience, our ways of interacting with our environment, and the constant struggle to maintain our autonomy.

Despite four hundred years of colonization, we remain anchored to our land by our ancient stories. The indigenous mythology that influences my photography grants me access to the minds of my ancestors, including the value they placed on our sacred lands. By outfitting and arranging models to depict those myths, I strive to continue my ancestors’ tradition of storytelling and showcase the sanctity of our land, elevating its worth beyond a prize for the highest bidder.

CV / Resume

Jeremy Dennis

1990 Born in Southampton, New York

Education

2016 MFA, Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA

2013 BA in Studio Art, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook NY

Solo Exhibitions

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

Group Exhibitions

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

Publications

2018 Nothing Happened Here, Jeremy Dennis, Suffolk County Community College, Exhibition Catalog

2017 Dennis, JeremyOn This Site, Blurb Inc.

2015 Dennis, Jeremy. Behind the Dance, Indigenous Portraits, Blurb Inc.

2012 Dennis, Jeremy. Dreams, Blurb Inc.

Bibliography

2017 Fiona Cashell, Landscape, “Memory and Myth: An Interview with Native American Artist, Jeremy Dennis,”
Studies in Arts and Humanities Journal, 2017
http://sahjournal.com/index.php/sah/article/view/118

Mark Segal, “Jeremy Dennis: Illuminating Indigenous Mythology,” The East Hampton Star, October 25, 2017
http://easthamptonstar.com/Arts/3/Jeremy-Dennis-Illuminating-Indigenous-Mythology

Residencies

2018 North Mountain Residency, Shanghai, WV

Eyes on Main Street, Wilson, NC

2017 Peconic Landing, Greenport, NY

The Watermill Center, Water Mill, 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

Collections

CHROMA

New York State Museum

Talkhouse Music Hall

Center for Photography at Woodstock