Awi’nakola Chicago 2023

“Awi’nakola” means “we are one with the land and the sea.” It is also the name for a foundation started by a group of Indigenous knowledge keepers, scientists, and artists working together to find effective responses to the climate crisis and educate others through the process. 

Art forms a central part of Awi’nakola through the work of artists Rande Cook (Ma’amtagila), Lindsay Katsitsakatste Delaronde (Kanienke’haka), Kelly Richardson, and Paul Walde—all based on Vancouver Island, British Columbia—and Chicago-based curator Stephanie Smith. The artists research, create, and share works of art—sometimes individually, sometimes collaboratively, and always in dialogue with knowledge held by other members of Awi’nakola. Awi’nakola Chicago 2023 is a week-long visit in which the artists will connect with colleagues here, share ideas, and plant seeds toward future collaborations. 

Awi'nakola began in 2021 with a week of interdisciplinary fieldwork in Kwakwaka'wakw territory initiated by Makwala – Rande Cook, an artist and hereditary chief of the Ma'amtagila First Nation. After additional fieldwork, reflection, and community consultation, the Awi'nakola Foundation was formed in late 2022. While the Foundation’s work is grounded in the urgent need to protect and regenerate threatened forest ecosystems, it connects with efforts to regenerate land and culture in other ways and other places. In addition to those listed above, core members of Awi’nakola include Dr. Suzanne Simard, a leading forest researcher who pioneered research into tree communication and wrote the international best-seller Finding the Mother Tree; Ernest Alfred, hereditary chief of Tlowit’sis Tribe, elected leader of the ‘Namgis First Nation, and leader of the Swanson Occupation; Dr. Rachel Holt, an ecologist with 30+ years working with old-growth forest management in BC; Dr. Smhayetsk Teresa Ryan, a member of Tsimshian Nation whose research focuses on the use of ancestral knowledge systems in sustainable management of natural resources; and others.

The Awi’nakola artists’ visit to Chicago is supported by the University of Chicago’s Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry; Office of the Provost; Department of Race, Diaspora, and Indigeneity and Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society; and by the Center for Native Futures. Additional support for the Awi’nakola artists’ visit is provided by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Watershed: Art + Ecology.

For more about Awi'nakola please visit:


Tuesday, May 16th
6:00- 8:00pm
Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry
929 East 60th Street (next to the Logan Center)
More information here.


Wednesday, May 17th
Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society, 
5701 South Woodlawn Avenue
For more information:
To rsvp for the luncheon:
*Free and open to the public (space is limited and RSVP required)
**Food will be served.

Friday, May 19th
DIALOGUES (Moderated by Sara Black and Adrian Wong, School of the Art Institute of Chicago)
Watershed Art & Ecology
1821 South Racine Avenue
DIALOGUES  is an ongoing colloquium series hosted by the Sculpture Department at SAIC developed as an amalgam of our visiting lecture series and graduate presentations. Please join us for short presentations by Rande Cook, Lindsay Katsitsakatste Delaronde, Kelly Richardson, Paul Walde of Awi'Nakola and short presentations by SAIC graduate students Becs Epstein and Maggie Cleary. Presentations will be followed by a followed by a recap of Awi’nakola Chicago 2023 weeklong program. The audience is invited to engage in the conversation. 
* Free and open to the public


About the participants

Left to Right: Rande Cook, Lindsay Katsitsakatste Delaronde, Kelly Richardson, Paul Walde, Stephanie Smith

Rande Cook is a hereditary Kwakwaka'wakw chief from Yalis (Alert Bay, British Columbia), a visual artist, and the founder of Awi'nakola. Cook is passionate about preserving ancient forests on his territory, and around the world. His art stems from that passion: expressed through a mix of traditional and contemporary approaches and media and aligned with Kwakwaka'wakw stories and values.  Cook has apprenticed with master carvers working in traditional Northwest Coast methods, received an MFA from the University of Victoria, and held the Audain Professorship of Contemporary Art Practice of the Pacific Northwest at the University of Victoria (2016–2017)

Lindsay Katsitsakatste Delaronde is a Kanieknke’haka woman from Kahnawake. Her multi-media practice centers Indigenous theater and land-based dramaturgy, grounded in her philosophy of "Embodied Earth Healing."  Delaronde holds an MFA and MA in Indigenous Communities Counseling Psychology from the University of Victoria, and is pursuing a PhD in Indigenous Governance. She holds the Audain Professorship of Contemporary Art Practice of the Pacific Northwest at the University of Victoria (2022–2023) and was the City of Victoria's Artist-in-Residence (2017–2019).

Kelly Richardson uses digital technology to make works centered on environmental issues and our relationship to the planet. Her projects ask viewers to consider what it is that we truly value and where we might go from here.  Recent solo exhibitions include Dundee Contemporary Arts (Scotland), Naturhistorisches Museum Wien (Austria), CAG Vancouver (Canada), and Albright-Knox Art Gallery (USA). Group exhibitions include the Beijing, Busan, Gwangju, and Montreal biennials. She holds MFAs from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and Newcastle University and is Professor of Fine Arts at the University of Victoria.

Paul Walde is a multi-disciplinary artist best known for performance- and sound-based works staged in the natural environment. Central issues in Walde's art include non-human communication, deforestation, and climate change. Recent solo exhibitions include Kamloops Art Gallery (CA) and Indexical (USA), and group shows at venues including 3rd Coventry Biennial (UK), Musée des Beaux Arts de Montreal (CA), Anchorage Museum (USA), and Nordnorsk Kunstmuseum (NO). Walde holds an MA from New York University and is Professor at the University of Victoria.

Stephanie Smith is a curator, writer, and arts leader whose collaborative, socially engaged projects assert art’s power to envision and enact other futures. She values place-responsive, generous, and hospitable ways of working—honed through 25+ years of curatorial practice including senior roles at museums in the US and Canada, and international projects. Her current research addresses regenerative culture.  Smith holds an MA from Rice University and is pursuing her PhD with the University of Amsterdam. She is Provostial Researcher at the University of Chicago’s Franke Institute for the Humanities (2022–2023).

Image: Rande Cook, The Last Stand, 2019, digital print (photo: Spartan Media)