Perspectives For Families

#MetKids—How Can Art Tell Us About Who We Are?

Apr 5, 2019 3 MINUTES
Join Francesca and Cyrus as artist Ty Defoe connects art in the Museum with stories and dance from his home.

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#MetKids is a digital feature made for, with, and by kids!

About #MetKids

#MetKids Contributors: Francesca and Cyrus

Artist: Ty Defoe

Featured Artwork:

Shoulder bag (missing strap)

Special thanks to Ty Defoe and the American Wing.

Supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

© 2019 The Metropolitan Museum of Art


[Music playing]

Francesca: Hi, my name is Francesca.

Cyrus: And my name is Cyrus.

Francesca and Cyrus: And we are interviewing Ty today.

Ty: [in Anishinaabe] Hi-Hello

[in Oneida] Hello

[in Anishinaabe] How is everyone today? I come from The Lake of
Flames and the clan is the Eagle.

Hello, everyone, my name is Ty. I'm from the Oneida and the Ojibwe nations, and I am Eagle Clan.

Francesca: When did you start playing music and start dancing?

Ty: So I started dancing and telling stories from the time I was born, in Northern Wisconsin, in the lands of the Anishinaabe people.

Where I come from we use different parts of the animal to create very beautiful adorned bags.

Francesca: What is the bag made out of?

Ty: The bag is made out of deer hide, this type of material that I'm wearing. The different colors, that's porcupine quills. Because of the black velvet, the porcupine quills, I definitely would look at a bag like this and be like, "That person is Anishinaabe."

Cyrus: How come some of these symbols are so important?

Ty: So some of these symbols are important because they preserve culture and stories. Look, there's a thunderbird, which is a symbol of power. And in Anishinaabe culture, there are different stories about Thunderbird protecting humans from things that live under the water.
People tell their aunties, their cousins, their grandchildren stories.

These symbols ripple out, and so everything has a meaning.


Cyrus: How come you're wearing these clothes, and why is it important to your performance?

Ty: I wear this on special occasions. So today I was thinking, "Wow, I'm going to The Met. I'm going to tell these stories, I'm going to make new friends with people. I have to dress in a way where the clothes that I'm wearing feel like home to me."

Out of the performance today, what was one thing that you were like, "Oh yeah!"

Francesca: Probably when you used the hoops, like you attached them to your body. And then the colors—like the black, white, yellow, and red—it all just sort of reminded me of the bag, your culture, and how they passed it down from generation to generation.

Ty: Those hoops are so cool because with that dance or story you can make symbols come to life.

Francesca: Thank you, Ty.

Cyrus: Thank you, Ty.

Ty: Thank you, both.

Francesca: My name is Francesca . . .

Cyrus: . . . And my name is Cyrus . . .

Francesca and Cyrus: . . . And we are signing off from The Metropolitan Museum of Art!

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