Your Place, Your Voice

In collaboration with Maria Goldwyn and Hayden Haynes (Onödowa’ga:’ – Deer Clan)

The Rockwell Museum is proud to collaborate with Corning-Painted Post Middle School art teacher Maria Goldwyn and Onödowa’ga:’ – Deer Clan (Seneca) artist Hayden Haynes on a virtual outreach project and student exhibition. 65 eighth-grade students enrolled in IB Digital Art classes created their own digital collages that represent aspects of their heritage and identity inspired by Haynes’ art and artwork from The Rockwell’s collection.

Your Place, Your Voice will be on view in The Rockwell’s Student Gallery from November 24, 2021 – January 3, 2022.

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Students explored how art can reveal a story and share a perspective that people may not have been aware of. They focused on using art as a tool for storytelling, self-reflection and artistic expression. Art gives people a voice about their identity, their place in their community and their experience in the world. The project provides students access to the artwork on view at the Museum and the opportunity to connect with a working, local artist.

In the classrooms, students met with Haynes on a video call to learn about his sculpture and digital photography focusing on how his art brings attention to history and his cultural identity. Haynes shared about the Thomas Indian School (TIS), a Native residential boarding school that operated on the Seneca-Cattaraugus territory. It began as an orphanage in 1855 to “rescue” destitute and orphaned children. He emphasized the ongoing impact of assimilation, attempts to erase Native culture and poor treatment of children in boarding schools. The effects of the TIS continues to impact the Haudenosaunee community today. His art provides a powerful healing lens to encourage awareness and reconciliation. 

Students also viewed a pre-recorded video featuring three works of art from The Rockwell collection and were prompted to think about themes and symbolism emphasized in the artwork. Themes included cultural heritage, identity, our connection to the land and night sky, storytelling, stereotypes, and following your dreams.

Students thought carefully about what defines them: their personal story, their past, what they appreciate and what they are curious about. Students creatively designed their digital collage portraits to include aspects of their personal identity and incorporated personal symbols to express their voice and their place within their lives.

Through this project, Maria Goldwyn introduced students to Adobe Photoshop and taught them how to digitally shape, scan and create images using layering techniques, transparency and geometry. Students experimented with the digital tools to blend, overlap and integrate symbols, stories and drawings into their one-of-a-kind creations.   


Hayden Haynes (Onödowa’ga:’ – Deer Clan) is an active artist and the Museum Manager at the Seneca-Iroquois National Museum in Allegany Territory. This museum is Native-owned and operated by Haudenosaunee people. Haynes has spent many years refining his antler carving work, an art form that has been practiced for centuries across the world. He recently created a series of photographs in collaboration with model Jocelyn Jones to spread awareness via social media about the Thomas Indian School (TIS). She wears Haynes’ carved antler earrings in the photographs.

Left to right: Hayden Haynes, Where It All Started. Model: Jocelyn Jones. Taken on Seneca-Cattaraugus territory; Hayden Haynes, Healing. Model: Jocelyn Jones. Taken on Seneca-Cattaraugus territory; Hayden Haynes, A Mother Remembers. Model: Jocelyn Jones. Taken on at the United Missions Cemetery, Seneca-Cattaraugus territory.











The idea with the photography was to highlight certain sites and buildings that still exist on our territory and that are a part of the TIS story. I shot these photos of Jocelyn Jones at these places that include, the Wright Memorial Church, the mission house, the old infirmary of TIS, and the United Missions Cemetery. The emotion seen in the photos is compelling, demonstrating the effects and feelings of our people to this day. I chose a variety of black and white, and color contrast for these images because even though TIS has been closed since 1957, the impacts live with us today. We are celebrating our resilience, despite the efforts of the boarding school era.

Very often, the educational history that is taught to non-Native children is not focused on entire truths. To honor our contributions to the world, to right the wrongs done to Native peoples, I think it’s important we delve deeper into truths, so that all may understand, heal and move forward. Openly talking about those dark chapters in U.S. history is important in ensuring equality and progress.

It is my hope that through sharing my recent photography series, talking with the students and explaining some of my processes, that the students working on this project are inspired to express their identities and in so doing, reflect on what is important to them.

Nya:wëh (I am thankful),
Hayden Haynes
Onöndowa’ga:’ (People of the Great Hill)- Deer Clan

The Rockwell values collaborating with the Corning-Painted Post Area School District and artist Hayden Haynes to bring the arts to classrooms virtually. This project merges art-making with digital technology, while also educating youth about the history and resiliency of Native American communities in our region. 


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