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Q&A with Amy June Breesman: Preparing Seeds for Seasons Ahead

By Elizabeth Snell

A smiling woman outdoors in the landscape with text overlay:

Meet Amy June Breesman, a 2024 National Leaders of Color Fellow.

Amy June is the artist, activist, and seedkeeper behind Bluejacket Handcraft and Good Way Farm in Lawrence, Kansas. Her multidisciplinary work addresses themes of racial and social justice, Indigenous self-determination, and food sovereignty. She was born and raised in the Washington, D.C. area and relocated to Kansas in 2023, making her new home on Kaw, Osage, and Kickapoo territories.  

We’re thrilled to introduce you to Amy June as part of our Q&A series with our region’s National Leaders of Color Fellows. She joins a total of 48 National Leaders of Color Fellows, chosen this year to represent our region. Alongside the other fellows from diverse communities nationwide, Amy June will engage in an eight-month online leadership development experience curated by WESTAF in collaboration with the U.S. Regional Arts Organizations. This initiative reflects Amy June’s passion as an artist, farmer, and leader.


What projects are you working on these days? 

Amy June: I have an ongoing body of work titled Holamooki, exploring contemporary queer Native identity—it has been on hold somewhat since the pandemic, but I look forward to starting up again now that I am settled in the Midwest. I dabble in printmaking and textile work, including natural dyes, when I can find the time and space. Farm and seed work at Good Way Farm has taken over much of my time, which I believe is a creative expression and cultural practice in its own right, too. You can find us at @goodway_farm on social media.


What is your earliest memory of being involved with art and creative work?

Amy June: As a child, I was always making things. Other 90’s kids will remember the splatter art and spirographs—I was obsessed. But I really took to photography in high school; we had a black and white darkroom for developing film and prints and that’s where I spent the vast majority of those four years. When I wasn’t in the darkroom I had my Canon Rebel XT velcroed to my hand!


What are your hopes and visions for your community and our region as a whole?

Amy June: My vision for a local arts community is one where there are fewer waitlists, lower class costs, and generally more abundance and joy outside of formal class settings. Having attended an arts institution for a four-year degree, I have seen the incredible privilege afforded those who can pass through those doors. Eleven years on from graduation from that program, it is increasingly difficult to find ways to balance an arts practice with other costs of living and demands of a day job. I envision a future which makes more room for continued practice.


What keeps you moving forward?

Amy June: In 2019, I began farming as I felt an increasing pull toward self-sufficiency and understanding food systems. In this, I found seed work, which continues year over year to be the thing that reminds me, as the year winds down, to reflect and prepare for the seasons ahead. In this way, seeds have been my beacon on the path forward, the thing that gives me the most hope and reminds me that the most spectacular blooms of the future live in and rely on the smallest gestures—like preserving a seed head—today.


Is there someone that you have admired (mentor, teacher, friend, or artist) that impacted your path in a positive way that you’d like to share?

Amy June: I had a great many mentors and friends in the adults in my life early on . . . my high school darkroom teacher, Ms. Gould; some of my college professors in photography, Muriel Hasbun, Susan Sterner, Claudia Smigrod, Margaret Adams, the late Frank Diperna. I would be remiss to not also name my best friend, Joan Oh, who passed away in 2021. Her jagged path through the fine arts really encouraged me to always try new mediums and explore new ways to describe the world around me. She was a fabulous ceramicist, made incredible collages, did video, audio, and writing work as well. Later on in life she became obsessed with knitting and crocheting, sort of a Jill of all Trades but with such a funny, unique voice. Even in her absence, she remains one of my biggest inspirations.


Who else should we get to know in our region?

Amy June: Dr. Aubrey Streit Krug (poet and author), Elexa Dawson (Good Way Gardens in Emporia, Kansas, and a musician), Sydney Pursel (curator of public practice at Spencer Museum of Art and artist), Tokeya Richardson (ledger artist, traditional craftsperson), Lula Renee (basketmaker and ceramicist), Monique Mercurio (community organizer and beadworker) . . . many more! 

If you want to support Native self-determination, view Amy June’s list of Native American organizations and resources to support.


More about Amy June:

Amy June also serves as the land relations specialist at the Land Institute, engaging in the cultural piece of agriculture. While rooted heavily in photography, she enjoys a multidisciplinary approach to applied research and craft. Her work is largely informed by her mixed heritage as an enrolled member of the Eastern Shawnee Nation of Oklahoma and queer identity.

To learn more about the 2023–2024 fellows, visit artslead.org/leaders/2023nationalfellows/. We will present additional Q&A sessions with each fellow throughout the spring.

The National Leaders of Color Fellowship is supported by the six U.S. Regional Arts Organizations:Arts Midwest, Mid-America Arts Alliance, Mid Atlantic Arts, New England Foundation for the Arts, South Arts, and program convener WESTAF


About the U.S. Regional Arts Organizations

​​The U.S. Regional Arts Organizations strengthen and support arts, culture, and creativity in their individual regions as well as across the nation. They serve the nation’s artists, arts and culture organizations, and creative communities with programs that reflect and celebrate the diversity of the field in which they work. They partner with the National Endowment for the Arts, state arts agencies, individuals, and other public and private funders to develop and deliver programs, services, and products that advance arts and creativity. Learn more at www.usregionalarts.org.