Oki and Taiguey! My name is Leo Bonaccio, I am a mixed Taino and Siksika artist who specializes in acrylic painting. 

This piece is titled “Jingle Dress Dancer In Pink.” It is an acrylic painting done on a 16 x 30-sized canvas. Because I grew up in Manhattan, I had easy access to my local museums, whether it was the MET or MOMA. However, I found myself constantly disappointed with the representation of figure painting art within these museums. I’d regularly think to myself, “where are the people who look like me?” And even as I grew older and explored the depths of Indigenous people depicted in art, I found time and time again that the most famous pieces of us were either created by white artists and/or were strictly depicting men. 

A lot of my inspiration comes from the strong women of color in my life. I look to my mother and aunt as inspiration regularly. Although I do not come from a family of traditional Jingle Dress dancers, I look to the Indigenous women who do compete in Jingle Dress Dancing in admiration. Within this painting, I attempt to portray this woman as strong and goddess-like. It is now more than ever that we need Indigenous, Black, and WOC, representation in order to show young women of color that they too are powerful and resilient. 

If you’d like to know more about Jingle Dress Dancing, the Ojibwe people, and how Jingle Dress Dancing came to be, I recommend the article “The History of the Jingle Dress Dance” located on the National Congress of American Indians website.