Multidisciplinary artist Laurie Steelink identifies as Akimel O’otham, and is a member of the Gila River Indian Community. Born in Phoenix, Arizona and raised in Tucson, she received a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute, and an MFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University. She served as archivist for the Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection in New York, and was director of Track 16 Gallery in west L.A. from 2002 to 2016. In 2012, Steelink founded Cornelius Projects, an exhibition space in San Pedro, CA that she named after her father. The curatorial focus at Cornelius Projects is primarily the cultural history and the artists of San Pedro and the Harbor Area. Steelink’s work has been exhibited internationally, and she has participated in Native American Indian Marketplaces at the Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles, and with the Santa Fe Indian Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
"Laurie was born into a generation that was impacted by one of the last vestiges of the U.S. Government’s active attempts at full hegemonic assimilation of Native Americans through the promotion of adoption programs of Native infants into white families. Laurie was adopted out of her Akimel O'otham Nation in Phoenix, Arizona and raised in Tucson. She grew up with a strong foundation in political consciousness and activism with her adopted family and studied art in college receiving both a BFA and MFA in Visual Art. Recently (in the past 20 years) Laurie has been re-connecting with her biological family and her cultural roots, which has had a profound and self-evaluative impact on her artistic practice. To overcome and heal from a forced identity schism, Laurie has immersed herself in becoming familiar with both Native artist communities, and has participated in ceremonial/spiritual gatherings. She has expanded her curatorial practice to include working with the annual Many Winters Gathering of Elders at Angeles Gate Cultural Center by assisting with event coordination, curating Native artist group exhibitions, and as an exhibiting artist herself. Critically engaging in both the long tradition of “Indian” marketplaces and the current emergence of contemporary Native American artists, Laurie’s newest work is entering a fascinating intersection of these arenas by creating dialogue of humanization, new visual language, and respectful co-existence between these two worlds."
Associate Professor, Intercollegiate Media Studies
Pitzer College, Claremont, CA