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Seven-foot by three-foot piece of canvas, split into two colors tan and black, and a frayed fringe.
Chelsea Bighorn, Untitled (black fringe), 2023. Dyed canvas and beads, 7 x 3 ft. Photograph by Tonal Simmons.

Native Futures: An Artist-Led Gallery Reclaiming Indigeneity

The Center for Native Futures (CfNF), an Indigenous-led and driven space that recently opened in downtown Chicago, celebrated their inaugural exhibition Native Futures on September 16, 2023. During the opening of the exhibition, Art Design Chicago editorial partner Sixty Inches from Center recorded conversations centered around Indigeneity and the reclamation of the fine art scene. 

Black queer non-binary artist and writer Tonal Simmons spoke with Indigenous artists, curators, and guests as they reflected on the opening of this groundbreaking exhibition. Their audio piece features artist and CfNF Co-founder Debra Yepa-Pappan, performing artist Frank Waln, and other attendees discussing what the opening means to them.  

“The Center for Native Futures is the only Native-led fine art gallery in Chicago, which makes this inaugural exhibition a deeply historical and culturally significant moment for Native artistic expression in the Midwest.”Tonal Simmons, Sixty Inches from Center 

Hear the full audio recording and read the transcript of this important conversation on Sixty Inches From Center’s website.  

Native Futures is on view until May 17, 2024.  


Tonal Simmons

Tonal Simmons (they/them) is a Black queer non-binary artist who is a writer, photographer and painter. Their photography and painting seeks to examine the similarities between flowers, growth, and Black queerness. While their writing explores the idea of DEI within art, creating w/chronic conditions, & lack of access to art for Black and brown creatives  

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