The Revelation Booth : Senior Thesis
We are not “something else”…we are Native, we are human.
The disenfranchisement of native people can be pinpointed countless times throughout history; from the government walls and treaty loopholes, to the prioritization of pipelines and oil. The Indigenous community, and their living areas, are compensated for corporate economics and political gain, yet not seen as an equal. The Revelation Booth serves as an epitome to bring an understanding to the viewers outside of the Indigenous Community to understand their privilege, to see the hardships, confusion and solemness through the installation and create this self-aware feeling, to call to change the viewer’s perspectives, to be motivated to change their own thinking.
Native American communities are still alive and relevant today; we are not just simple text in history books or objects and costumes for appropriation. We are not a category that is labeled “OTHER or SOMETHING ELSE” on election percentages or document papers. We are Native, we are human. This is the importance for creating the Revelation Booth. The Revelation Booth immerses the viewer in their own internal thinking yet provides external context to language, type, digital screens and voices.
The typography of Cherokee and English alphabet fusion elevates the coercion of my own heritage, how I never learned the language of my ancestors and felt the pressure of outside change to modernity, while also helping the outside communities understand what is being relayed through the English language. All the while the creation of the booth elevates this enclosed space of closed-off surrealism. In irony, the Native American community is often left in confusion, isolation or abandoned. The Revelation Booth shifts that perspective on the majority.
The Revelation Booth was created through three semesters and additional summer work. At the beginning of my research I knew I wanted to help others. I wanted to somehow uplift the Native American community and bring education to outer communities who may not know as much. My audience of viewers mainly being from Northwest Ohio, in the Bowling Green area – I knew there would be a sense of disconnection or little knowledge about the subject. As a biracial Native American woman growing up with little connections, I felt very lonely, ashamed and belittled to talk about my culture. It was not until freshman year of college that I truly began talking to others about it. As someone who looks “white passing”, I had many privileges to a certain point. Honing these emotions from my younger state, I began to reach out and interview several Native American artists from all over the United States. Including Sadie Red Wing, Edgar Heap of Birds, Maggie Thompson and more. These artists also expressed feelings of loneliness, abandonment, and the dread of not fitting in. I wanted to turn these feelings onto the majority, thus the inspiration towards the language used, and the questions asked.
The central board spoke directly to the viewer. The questions asked: “How important do you think you are to society? Is your voice heard? Do you know whose land you reside on? Are you considerate of others? Other races, ethnicities and lives? Are you important in others lives? What privileges do you have? What do you find necessary in life? What do you take for granted? What do you think makes you important?” And repeat.
The two side panels held tribal constitutions, from both the Cherokee and Muscogee Nations – the two tribes I have blood lineage to. Layered with the fusion typography I created and the single Cherokee translation to the fusion typography beside it. The fusion typography was created to cause initial confusion. Showing lettering and words that are not directly clear, and that can cause the user to be confused, frustrated or just curious to know more. The typography can be read through the similar vocal tonalities the Cherokee language and English language share. The “eh, ee, i, ooh, uu” sounds are found within both languages, the Cherokee language uses these sounds (and more) throughout the 86+ characters it has. So, the type translates to several words; The Creator, Love Humans, Community, and History.
Among the swirling questions, statements and typography, the viewer walks into the booth to be greeted by the installation video. Music plays as important visuals and messages blink across the screen. After finishing the video, viewers were asked to take a coin home with them. To remember their experience in the both and to be a reminder to uplift and help Native communities and understand their own privilege they carry. On the front side of the coins are two design options, one from the fusion typography stating the word “Unity”. The other option stated “Cultural community” in the Cherokee language. On the back of all the laser engraved coins was a QR code. Upon scanning the code, it takes the user to a linktree. Several resources are listed including donation avenues, how to become a Native American ally and capabilities to rewatch the installation video or to view a 360 version of the booth so they can remember their experiences once again.
Click here to access the linktree.
Watch the installation video for The Revelation Booth & the 360 viewing below.