Computational Research Center

News and updates from the CRC

Native Dancer: UND 55th Annual Writers Conference

Author: Ariann Rousu – Native Dancer Digital Artist


This year the Native Dancer Project had the opportunity to present the work that has been done, at UNDs 55th Annual Writers Conference. This event featured guest authors: Marie Myung-Ok Lee, Laura Marris, Ava Chin, Terrance Hayes, and Sterling HolyWhiteMountain. Additionally, I was invited to be the featured Artist during the event. This included an art show displayed in the Memorial Union Gallery with an artist talk held during the conference, and participation in a panel discussion.

Before the panel discussion, I got to meet the other participants: Marie Myung-Ok Lee, Laura Marris, and Ava Chin. Then touch base with the UND Writers Conference Director: Crystal Alberts, Co-Director: Patrick Henry and our panel moderator: Sarah Heitkamp. Heitkamp is the Curator and Director of UND Art Collections. Her and assistants in the gallery put up the Native Dancer Art Show and hosted the gallery talk.

Native Dancer Conference Participation

The panel was titled “Homes & Histories” and gave opportunity to reflect on your work and how homes/culture influence that. This discussion was enriching to be a part of as the participants have diverse backgrounds. Despite our lives and work being very different, it seemed we were able to relate to each other when discussing connections to homes and cultures.

Later that day was the discussion in the gallery, where Native Dancer shared more about the project and guests were able to ask questions. The attendees viewed the work in the gallery, which included paintings, and graphic work done for Native Dancer. Other graphics on display were made for the UND CRC Dream Lab. The main attraction in the art show is a video display of the Grass Dancer alongside a VR Headset. With the headset on, viewers can look around a sample Powwow environment and watch the Dancer in 3D. This display will be up until April 24th, 2024.

Attended Sessions

Over the course of the three days, there were several other events and workshops available to the public. I attended author readings and another panel discussion titled “Beyond Boundaries“. This panel was with Sterling HolyWhiteMountain, Terrance Hayes, and Ava Chin, moderated by Anna Kinney. Prior to the discussion, I was looking forward to hearing how their work and views would overlap. What took me by surprise and what was most valuable over the week was how different each of these writer’s viewed boundaries. When it came to boundaries, they seemed to agree that the topic is, “to each it’s own.”

Boundaries can be good to maintain control, but knowing when to break them and push back is just as important. I found value in this, as when the advisory team for Native Dancer comes together, we have to understand our own boundaries when it comes to technology, culture and the overlapping. But we are also pushing boundaries when it comes to what is possible in a game engine environment involving clothing in motion,