Pelenakeke (Keke) Brown

2018 Create Change Fellow

Washington Heights | Dance, Drawing, Literary Art, Multidisciplinary, Performance, Visual Arts


Pelenakeke (Keke) Brown is a afakasi Samoan, queer, disabled multi disciplinary artist originally from New Zealand. She is interested in the in-between spaces that we each straddle.

What artist, curator, activist or project has influenced or inspired you?
Rosanna Raymond is an artist, fashion activist, poet, activator, scholar, and just goals. I met her last year when she had a fellowship at the Met. I’ve never met such a badass, confident, woman.

She works within the time (ta) space (va) continuum working within the past, present and future and often in Museum spaces. She is adamant about making space for indigenous bodies in Museum spaces, especially that we are needed in these spaces as the contemporary living bodies of the Pacific.

She has influenced me greatly, to see myself as a contemporary embodiment of the genealogical body in this time and space. Something I had trouble accepting. Her mentorship too has meant an acceptance that my body, is relevant, indigenous and necessary. Her scholarship and work inspires me but also the way that she tautoko (supports) younger artists.

What is your favorite book, film or song about NYC?

I have just finished reading “Let The Great World Spim” by Colum McCann. It’s brilliant and centers around a real moment in history that is seen by many people in New York. Each chapter focuses on a different character that in some way was touched by this moment spanning many generations. This is a sentiment that I really relate to with New York. The notion of one small moment creating a ripple in time which reverberates across times and generations I think is constantly occurring in New York. One’s actions here can often have real effects and/or tangible outcomes in a short amount of time. Also, many tragic things occur in the novel but somehow there is beauty that occurs out of such ugliness that wouldn’t have happened without that.


Artist Website