Extra than 20 many years just after Penobscot Nation artists Jason Brown and Donna Decontie Brown initial started creating and selling jewelry as Decontie & Brown, the pair have hung up their pliers for now in favor of a much more expansive, interdisciplinary way of generating artwork.
Soon immediately after the pandemic started, Jason Brown threw his passion at the rear of Firefly, a multimedia overall performance art challenge that for the past two years has remodeled his creative everyday living. As a result of songs, video, dance and trend, Brown creates an immersive stay working experience, drawing on ancestral Wabanaki new music and imagery, but with a futuristic twist.
“It’s Indigenous futurism,” he stated. “Many men and women believe of Indigenous folks as anything ancient, or from the earlier. They really do not see us as present, and they absolutely sure as heck really do not see us as futuristic. But we are in this article, and we will be listed here. One particular of the reasons why I do this is to demonstrate that.”
The path to Firefly was a prolonged but unavoidable just one. In 2016, Decontie & Brown began making apparel and components in addition to jewelry, appearing in trend exhibits at main Indigenous American artwork shows like the Santa Fe Indian Marketplace, the Listened to Museum Guild Indian Marketplace in Phoenix, Arizona, and far more locally at the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor.
Brown made his have audio for some of those people exhibits, spurring him to master additional about recording and generating soulful electronic beats about which to sing and drum. The tunes themselves ended up currently there, drawing on the ancient Wabanaki audio he figured out a long time ago from tribal elders.
“There’s a cause why these chants, these notes, these melodies have lasted for hundreds of yrs,” he explained. “They may have modified a very little little bit over the generations, but the unique ability guiding them flows by. We just set our individual flavor on it and hand it ahead. It is all section of a continuation of this 13,000-yr-outdated circle of creativity.”
Nevertheless Brown and his wife and imaginative companion Decontie Brown experienced discovered a fantastic offer of success in making fine jewellery, when the pandemic struck, it modified everything for them. All the artwork shows they usually traveled to in the spring, summertime and drop have been canceled.
Bored and restless, Brown commenced web hosting dwell streams that includes himself singing and drumming above individuals beats, wearing some of the garments types he and Decontie Brown built, and setting up evocative lights in deep purples, blues, reds and greens — hues inspired by the mild of fireflies, the aurora, and the night sky in common.
His live streams were being well-liked ideal off the bat, and Brown dubbed the undertaking Firefly. After a couple of months, it turned pretty very clear to him that this was the direction he wanted to go in creatively. In 2021, he and Decontie Brown built the selection to commence refocusing Decontie & Brown absent from solely jewelry and vogue, and toward being a “house of creativity” — a partnership that encompasses the design, songs, and online video aspects of their perform.
“COVID was a tragedy, but it also was a good reset for so numerous persons. It made so many persons reevaluate the points in their lives,” he reported. “I know it did for me.”
Considering that then, Brown has launched a selection of music as Firefly, releasing his debut album, “Sacred Hearth,” final yr. He has carried out stay shows across Maine and the nation, together with a number of shows in Portland around the winter season. In his are living demonstrates, he transforms venues into shimmering nighttime wonderlands, and he encourages audiences to participate in the singing and rhythmic elements.
Earlier this calendar year Brown also finished do the job as Firefly on a piece of electronic video artwork known as “WABANAVIA,” that explores not just his Wabanaki heritage, but also Scandinavian roots, as he has ancestors from Sweden. The Portland Museum of Art procured “WABANAVIA” in February as component of its everlasting selection.
Whilst Brown helps make his music and visual aspects, Donna Decontie Brown performs with him to craft and accomplish the live exhibits and handle their business, while doing work as director of the Wabanaki Women’s Coalition. They’ve also been occupied reworking their Bangor home and studio into a hub of multimedia exercise, and absent from being a jewelry studio.
Not that Brown intends to give up jewellery producing endlessly. It’s what bought him started off as an artist, and what set him on the route to Firefly.
“Just the other day I had to get my applications out so I could do a minor repair on a piece I created a couple of decades back,” he claimed. “It’s great to bear in mind that I have not missing my contact, even if my creative imagination is in a unique position now.”
Firefly will following carry out on Saturday, June 18 at the Bangor Arts Exchange, as aspect of WERU-FM’s summer months concert sequence. For a lot more facts, check out fireflythehybrid.com.