Sydney Jane Brooke Campbell Maybrier Pursel is an interdisciplinary artist specializing in interactive, socially engaged, and performance arts. Through art she explores personal identity drawing from her Indigenous and Irish Catholic roots. Some of Sydney's projects are used to educate others about food politics, assimilation, language loss, appropriation, and history in addition to projects amongst her own community focusing on language acquisition, culture and art. Her work has been shown at public parks, universities, galleries, and alternative spaces in Columbia, MO; Fort Collins, CO; Fulton, MO; Iowa City, IA; Kansas City, MO; Lawrence, KS; New York, NY; San Francisco, CA; Santa Fe, NM; Seattle, WA; Sheridan, WY; Toronto, ON; Ucross, WY; Vermillion, SD; and White Cloud, KS. Sydney received her MFA in Expanded Media at the University of Kansas and her BFA in Painting from the University of Missouri. She was the first recipient of the Ucross Fellowship for Native American Visual Artists, received a Rocket Grant through the Charlotte Street Foundation and the Spencer Museum of Art, was selected for the Indigenous Arts Initiative Residency program through the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission and the University of Kansas, was awarded a BeWildReWild Community Art Grant through the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. Later this year she will attend Vermont Studio Center through the Harpo Foundation Fellowship for Native American Artists and PlySpace through a Residency Fellowship. Sydney is an enrolled member of the Ioway Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska.
While in residency, Sydney will be offering a rendition of her ongoing project, the Feast. The Feast is an educational intervention that involves the sharing of culture, food, and conversation. Participants are invited to eat a meal comprised of past and present traditional Indigenous food off of hand-designed plates and corresponding placemats featuring a single tribe. While eating, people can read about the tribe represented on their plate and placemat and share with those around them. Collectively, participants can learn about the similarities and differences among various tribes. Topics examined include the destruction of Native society, culture, language, and lifeways and the loss of land through acts of removal and relocation to reservations. Because food is connected to land, this history is directly related to the current food situation which causes health problems among American Indians. The goal of this project is to promote and Indigenous worldview based on community, reciprocity, and respect while educating others about the diversity that exists among the 573+ federally recognized tribes within the United States today. After each Feast, I collect and photograph the aftermath. Then, the plates, cutlery, and left overs are composted with the hopes of growing vegetables and squash for future renditions of the Feast.