Casting Call: 'They Sustain Us'
Fashion Art Show

Gray Area seeks models/performers of Indigenous heritage living in the Bay Area for a fashion show of the latest collection by Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) artist, Skawennati.

On March 22 and March 23, Gray Area will present 'They Sustain Us', a performative, mixed-media project featuring a runway show, with original fashion-art by Skawennati.

Each performance will last roughly 30 minutes, with 2 hours of hair and make-up in advance. Models will be asked to walk a circular runway, wearing the garments and displaying them for an audience of 100-150 people.

Gray Area will host virtual casting calls on February 9 and February 10.

Feb 9 - 10 | Casting Calls

March 22 | DAY 1:
11AM – 2PM | Rehearsal
4PM – 9PM | SHOW

March 23 | DAY 2:
10AM – 3PM | SHOW

PAY: $500

The casting calls will be conducted virtually, email [email protected] or sign up for a slot here by February 8.

About 'They Sustain Us'

'They Sustain Us' is the story of how the Three Sisters became super heroes. It will be told through two major components: a song, delivered as a multi-channel, long-form music video created using the technique of machinima (a movie shot inside a video game); and a fashion collection, presented in a runway show.

The Three Sisters are, of course, Corn, Beans and Squash (or Ó:nenhste, Osahè:ta’ and Onon’ónsera in Kanien’keha, the Mohawk language). Their story unfolds over four eras: pre-contact; colonization; genetic modification, and five minutes in the future. We meet them first as avatars in the video, rapping “Welcome to the Garden.”

Skawennati has designed 12 outfits, one for each Sister for each era. The outfits are inspired by each of the eras – they are not historical remakes. Each has a virtual version and an IRL/AFK version.

Once the video is over, 12 Real Human Beings (you?) will walk the runway, rocking the IRL/AFK version of the outfit. The concept is that what we can dream up in the cyberworld can manifest in the physical world.

Overall, 'They Sustain Us' tells an untraditional story of the Three Sisters, beloved personifications of three North American indigenous staple crops. 'They Sustain Us' aims to bring to life their contemporized digital re-imaginings. Throughout the piece, these digital avatars will share their knowledge of growing; their opinions on sustainability and food sovereignty; and their perspective on the feminine power of life-giving.

About Skawennati

Skawennati investigates history, the future, and change from her perspective as an urban Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) woman and as a cyberpunk avatar. Her artistic practice questions our relationships with technology and highlights Indigenous people in the future. An early adopter of cyberspace as both a location and a medium, she creates machinimas and machinimagraphs (movies and still images made in virtual environments) as well as sculpture, fashion, and performative experiences.

Her works have been presented in Europe, Oceania, Asia and across North America and are included in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada and the Thoma Foundation, among others. She is honoured to have received a 2022 Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions Grant; a 2020 Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship; and a 2011 Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship. She holds an Honorary Doctorate from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

Over the years, Skawennati has been active in various communities. In the 80s she joined the nuclear-disarmament peace group, SAGE (Students Against Global Extermination), and the Quebec Native Women’s Association. In the 90s she co-founded Nation to Nation, a First Nations artist collective, while working in and with various Indigenous organizations and artist-run centres, including the Native Friendship Centre of Montreal and Oboro.

In 2005, she co-founded Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace (AbTeC), a research-creation network based at Concordia University whose projects include the Skins workshops on Aboriginal Storytelling and Digital Media as well as the Initiative for Indigenous Futures. Throughout most of the teens, she volunteered extensively for her children’s elementary school, where she also initiated an Indigenous Awareness programme. In 2019, she co-founded centre d’art daphne, Montreal’s first Indigenous artist-run centre.

Originally from Kahnawà:ke Mohawk Territory, Skawennati belongs to the Turtle clan. She holds a BFA from Concordia University in Montreal, where she resides.


Model 1: Pre-Contact Osahè:ta’ (Beans)
Wearing deerskin asymmetrical dress
Cool, proto-punk Indigenous female//woman

Ideal measurements:
Height 5’9”
Bust 32/34 cup size A
Waist 28/30
Hips 34
Shoe size 8/9/10

Model 2: Pre-Contact Onon’ónsera (Squash)
Wearing deerskin bandeau bra and skirt
Fun-loving, femme Afro-Indigenous female/woman

Ideal measurements:
Height 5’4"
Bust 40/44 D/DD
Waist 38/44
Hips 52
Shoe size 7/8/9

Model 3: Colonial Era Osahè:ta’ (Beans)
Wearing ribbon pants and asymmetrical top
Cool, proto-punk Afro-Indigenous female/woman/trans

Ideal measurements:
Height 5’9”
Bust 32/34 cup size A
Waist 28/30
Hips 34
Shoe size 8/9/10

Model 4: Colonial Era Ó:nenhste (Corn)
Wearing ribbon mini-skirt and top
Indigenous female, leader-of-the-pack type

Ideal measurements:
Height 5’5”
Bust 34/3638 cup size B/C
Waist 32/34/36
Hips 36/40
Shoe size 8/9/10