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Joe Williams

Co-host of Beyond the Art

Joe Williams (Waȟpéthuŋwaŋ Dakota, from the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate) is the co-host of Beyond the Art.

Williams is the former Director of the Indigenous Programs at the Plains Art Museum in Fargo, North Dakota and is a storyboard artist for live action film. He earned an MFA degree in Visual Effects from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, and a Bachelor of Arts in American Indian Studies from the University of South Dakota in Vermillion.

Williams is a host of the podcast 5 Plain Questions and a retired soldier in the U.S. Army National Guard, having served for 20 years and deployed three times overseas in service to his country. He is also a 2023 Bush Foundation Fellow.

Beyond the Art episodes:
  • Renowned producer and artist Jhane Myers, who is Comanche and Blackfeet, graces Beyond the Art to share her incredible journey in the entertainment industry. Jhane opens up about how her heritage shapes her work, the hurdles she faces as a Native American woman, and her unwavering commitment to authentic storytelling. Dive into her current projects, including a poignant documentary on Leonard Peltier, a cooking show, and diverse television endeavors, all designed to ensure accurate and meaningful representation of Native stories.We also have a fascinating conversation with another producer who transitioned from a high-profile marketing role at Ralph Lauren to producing powerful media campaigns. She shares the secrets behind maintaining professional relationships and selecting groundbreaking projects that highlight Native voices in underrepresented genres like sci-fi. The success of "Prey" serves as a testament to her vision, demonstrating how Native narratives captivate diverse audiences and redefine the media landscape.Finally, we celebrate the creative accomplishments of Jhane Myers' children and her own pivotal role in the film "Prey." This episode underscores the importance of fostering creativity across generations and the broader implications for Indigenous representation in media. We delve into the power of diverse collaboration, the challenges Native American filmmakers face, and the inspiring journey of using film to confront racism and authentically represent Native cultures. Join us for a compelling exploration of Native artistry and the evolving cultural narrative through the lens of dedicated storytellers.
  • What if artwork could be a powerful tool to reclaim and preserve a culture? Join us in an engaging conversation with John Pepion, a distinguished artist from the Blackfeet Nation in Montana, as he shares his remarkable journey and the rich heritage that fuels his creativity. John’s decision to embrace his art full-time in 2009 was more than a career move; it was a commitment to his roots and a declaration of the resilience of the Blackfeet people. We explore his utilization of traditional Blackfoot motifs and styles, including pictographic and ledger art, and discuss how his choice of mediums, from buffalo hides to antique ledger paper, ties him intimately to his ancestry and historical practices.The episode sheds light on the growing Native American Indigenous art movement, which stretches beyond the canvas to influence fashion, culinary arts, and more. We address the pressing issues of inclusion and representation in mainstream art, emphasizing the necessity of authentic indigenous voices over non-indigenous interpretations. Discover how elements of nature, traditional symbols, and personal experiences serve as profound inspirations in Native American art. John shares insights into how ceremonial practices, historical artifacts, and even museum collections play crucial roles in the storytelling and preservation of indigenous culture.Listen in as John opens up about the intense dedication required to be an artist, from balancing sleepless nights brimming with ideas to early morning work sessions. We delve into the transformative power of collaboration, the significance of prioritizing personal projects, and John’s ambitious plans for upcoming exhibitions in Montana and a debut in New York City. Learn how art serves as a vital instrument in preserving Indigenous culture and identity, ensuring that the stories and traditions of the Blackfeet people are recorded and cherished for generations to come. Don’t miss this inspiring episode filled with passion, creativity, and cultural enlightenment.
  • Growing up amidst the vibrant swirl of a powwow family, one can't help but be swept up in the creative current. That's precisely what happened to Joe Big Mountain, a Quill artist of Mohawk and Comanche heritage, who joins us to recount his fascinating journey into the art of porcupine quillwork. His story is not just about the personal revival of a painstaking craft, but also a heartwarming glimpse into how his heritage and family's artistic lineage played a pivotal role in shaping his path. We get intimate insights into the cultural significance of quillwork and how Joe is breathing new life into this ancient technique.The conversation with Joe then navigates the historical and contemporary landscapes of quillwork in art. It's a celebration of tradition, where animal quills and hides become more than materials; they're a connection to a rich past. Joe elaborates on how the art form serves as a bridge between expressing individuality and preserving cultural legacy. He shares anecdotes on the rarity of private commissions, the impact of his craft on family and special occasions, and the delicate balance of staying true to timeless methods while allowing for artistic evolution.In the final segment, we uncover the layers of inspiration behind Joe Big Mountain's work, from his grandmother's exquisite beadwork to his own trailblazing moments at New York Fashion Week with his brand Iron Horse Cool Work. We talk about the rigor of creating quillwork masterpieces, the familial bonds that support and challenge him, and the strategies he employs to keep his art form both fresh and faithful to its roots. Joe's tales are an open book to his creative world, offering wisdom to burgeoning artists and pulling back the curtain on the complex tapestry of a contemporary Native American artist's life.