Relative Arts showcases indigenous art forms

ByChristina Georgiou and Mark Nunez Localish logo
Tuesday, November 28, 2023
Relative Arts showcases indigenous art forms
"I have never had such a full and supportive group of indigenous people as I do here in New York City."

EAST VILLAGE, MANHATTAN -- In the heart of the East Village, Relative Arts is a brick-and-mortar store, community space, and open atelier, dedicated to celebrating indigenous vendors, contemporary artists, and designers.

Co-founded by educator Liana Shewey and fashion designer Korina Emmerich, Relative Arts goes beyond being a retail space. They host events ranging from gallery shows, poetry readings, intimate musical performances, and knowledge-sharing events that foster empowerment and connection within the indigenous community, what Emmerich views as a "curated clubhouse."

"I have never had such a full and supportive group of indigenous people as I do here in New York City," said Shewey.

Through art and education, Relative Arts honors tradition while fostering the advancement of "Indigenous Futurism," an emerging art and design movement that pushes for a more representative future.

"We are thinking about what it looks like for us to not just be surviving but thriving into the future. There are many different ways that we are able to contribute to a more representative society of the original stewards of this land," said Shewey.

Relative Arts commits to social impact through T-shirt campaigns, contributing 30% of proceeds to initiatives supporting Indigenous communities.

"You will find everything from fashion, clothing, design, wellness products, and jewelry," said Shewey. "We really carry every kind of art form that you could imagine that indigenous people are making."

"It invites people into the conversation to gain new understanding that we are trying to make this world an equitable place that celebrates the beautiful diversity of our culture," said Shewey.

Nishina Loft, artist in residence at Relative Arts, creates tufted earrings, art prints and clothes that embodies the resilience of indigenous identity.

"We know who we are, we know where we come from. We have this shared experience of being indigenous and what that means. So being able to come into a space where you're understood and cared for is just really empowering," said Loft.