River Kerstetter

The Places We’ve Danced
digital collage
variable size

“Home to me, like many of us, is a living, changing, very queer and complicated story.

I consider the places my ancestors have called home. I am descended from a mix of Onyota’a:ka (Wisconsin Oneida) and European colonists and immigrants. I am also a child of queer, trans, and Two-Spirit ancestors who are connected across time and space. These ancestors have made many different places home, from longhouses to gay bars to English homes built on Indigenous land. I can’t help but think about my connection to these places– the homes I was raised in in New Mexico, the first gay bar I kissed another queer person in, and the Chicago two-flats that I’ve lived in.

I also consider the ways I’m connected to my ancestors beyond physical places. I think of the Onyota’a:ka creation story, which tells the story of the First Woman falling to Earth, speaking with animals, giving birth to a daughter who in death became the Corn, Squash and Beans that have sustained us for eons, and finally becoming the Moon. How queer was her life? Her many transformations and power are echoed in the ways Indigenous peoples have survived and transformed under settler-colonialism, and the ways that queer and trans people throughout history have adapted and built community even when it has been dangerous to do so.

Home, then, isn’t just the place I’ve lived but the stories and dreams of all of my ancestors.”

artist’s website

© River Kerstetter