Photo by Tess Scheflan

Lilly E. Manycolors

Fall 2020 Public Artist Resident

Artist Statement

Lilly E. Manycolors is a mixed Choctaw mother and interdisciplinary artist and scholar known for her emotionally-excavating artworks and performances. Deeply rooted in her Choctaw traditions and Anishinaabe teachings given to her, she draws from her personal journeys to create pieces that offer safer spaces for decolonial dialogue, intimate connections, and new ways of being. Her art focuses on the human condition, bringing into conversation experiences of otherness, transformation, trauma and healing, gender, and possibilities of being one’s complex self.

Through her pieces she invites her audience to traverse vast emotional terrains with her and explore the depths of personhood together. How do we feel and accept the fullness of pain and suffering, and still believe we will survive them? What relationships are we cultivating between our own body and the bodies of others? How do we live in the in-between spaces, and live well? These questions and more she brings alive through her various art forms, mostly self-taught, including visual art, sculpture, installation, dance, poetry, and performance art.

Manycolors’ work during the residency will focus on the reparation of Indigenous people in the present and future fate of humanity through mixed media.


“Indigenous people never went extinct. We are still here. Indigenous people must be restored to their rightful place in the cultural structure on the Americas. The health and wellbeing of the planet requires Indigenous people to be liberated and sovereign.”

Conceptualized by Lilly E. Manycolors (Mixed Choctaw) Created by Lilly E. Manycolors in partnership with Andre Strongbearheart Gaines Jr. (Nipmuc Tribe) Fall 2020

As a mixed Indigenous womxn and artist, Manycolors’ work is founded in decolonial embodiment and multiplicity. Her work aims to center Indigenous voices and stories to support the restoration of Indigenous people in their rightful place within the cultural structure of Turtle Island. Her work this residency will focus on the reparation of Indigenous people in the present and future fate of humanity through mixed media.

Andre StrongBearHeart Gaines Jr. is of the Nipmuc people, a strong cultural steward, a father, public speaker, traditional dancer, poet, recovery coach and educator. His works are founded in cultural preservation and revitalization.

In addition to applying for permission from Boston Art Commission for temporary public art project, Lilly applied to the Massachusett Tribe for their permission to use the land for this project. The text of the application is reflected in the text on the art work itself; the back of the carved and painted work includes a land acknowledgment that the South End has been, is, and will continue to be the traditional lands of the Massachusett people.

“Changing the landscape of Boston to portray the presence of Indigenous people contributes to Boston’s inhabitants being educated on the true history of Massachusetts. With knowledge comes the opportunity for growth. It is my intention that this sculpture contribute to evolving the Boston landscape to reflect the local Indigenous people and in turn contribute to making their stories visible and heard. With this sculpture the local non-Indigenous inhabitants have an opportunity to engage in decolonial history and possibly contribute to changing the culture to support Indigenous people instead of causing genocide.”