Homestead is about contemporary expressions of whiteness and colonialism. My family’s farmland is located in Southwestern Minnesota, part of the traditional lands of Očhéthi Šakówiŋ and Yankton Nations. The U.S. took control of the region through the 1851 Treaty of Traverse des Sioux. The 1862 Homestead Act, one of several federal mandates, channeled the influx of European immigrants to “settle” the Minnesota Territory—including my fourth great-grandfather. Signed into law the same year as the U.S.-Dakota War, the Act is now considered a turning point in American colonization of the Northern Plains. Using my familial history as a starting point, Homestead explores how American exceptionalism and whiteness are historically, consciously, and unconsciously embedded into the Midwestern cultural narrative.

Homestead embodies tension; the photographs hold both beauty and violence. Sweeping, verdant landscapes with cruel histories, a sympathetic portrait of my grandfather on stolen farmland, or my family’s favorite pizza place branded with a pioneer wagon on a field of spaghetti sauce. This work invites viewers (specifically white viewers) to consider their own relationship to the land they inhabit, and the tension between love of family and land while acknowledging participation in deliberate harm. Is there a future where we, white folks, can hold this tension and envision/enact a better, more equitable way to be on the land?

Exhibition installations include a reading room, resource list, and exhibition catalogue including original essays by Dr. Kate Beane and Tia-Simone Gardner.