Eric Gansworth, a writer and visual artist, is an enrolled member of the Onondaga Nation. He was raised at the Tuscarora Nation, near Niagara Falls, New York. Currently, he is a Professor of English and Lowery Writer-in-Residence at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York.
His novels, Indian Summers (Michigan State University Press 1998), Smoke Dancing (MSUP 2004), Mending Skins (University of Nebraska Press 2005), Extra Indians (Milkweed Editions, 2010), the Young Adult novel, If I Ever Get Out of Here (Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, 2013), the collections of poems, Nickel Eclipse: Iroquois Moon (MSUP 2000) and A Half-Life of Cardio-Pulmonary Function, (Syracuse University Press 2008), and Breathing the Monster Alive, (Bright Hill) poems, personal essays, all feature paintings as integral parts of their narratives. His first full length performance/play, Re-Creation Story, premiered as a staged reading in 2008’s Native Theater Festival at the Public Theater in New York City. Theater commissions, Home Fires and Reservation Roads, (a performance), premiered at the State University of New York at Oneonta, and Rabbit Dance, at Ohio Northern University, both in 2011. From the Western Door to the Lower West Side, (White Pine, 2009) is a volume of poems in response to images by social documentary photographer, Milton Rogovin. An anthology he edited, Sovereign Bones (Nation Books, 2007), focused on Creative Non-fiction from Indigenous writers and artists exploring the link between art and cultural survival.
Gansworth is also a visual artist. His first solo exhibit, “Nickel Eclipse: Iroquois Moon,” opened in 1999 at the Olean Public Library and an expanded show opened at the Castellani Museum in 2000. A solo exhibit, “Breathing the Monster Alive” opened at Bright Hill Center in 2006. A collaborative two-artist show, “Feedback,” with sculptor Larry Plant, opened in 2005 at the Stuyvessant Gallery in Buffalo, NY. A new solo exhibit, “Cross-PolliNation,” opened at the Vogt Gallery at Canisius College in 2008, and was mounted with some variation, at Colgate University in late 2009, as “A Half-Life of Cardio-Pulmonary Function.” An exhibit titled “Two Rows: A Balancing Act,” ran at Westfield State University, in Massachusetts, in 2010. “Home Fires and Reservation Roads,” a career retrospective exhibit, coinciding with a performance residency, was mounted at the State University of New York at Oneonta’s Project Space Gallery in 2011.
Gansworth’s visual work has been in group shows across New York State, including: “Revisiting Turtle Island,” at the Niagara Arts and Culture Center, “Native Vision: Art through Haudenosaunee Eyes,” at the Fanette-Goldman Gallery, "Art Creations from Tuscarora," at Neto Hatinakwe Ohnkwehowe, the "Keepers of the Western Door" Exhibit, co-sponsored by CEPA Gallery and the World University Games, and in a follow-up exhibit "In the Shadow of the Eagle," at the Castellani Museum; in "Teaching Metaphors" at the Niagara County Community College; and in "Sharing the Visions," at Hartwick College in Oneonta.
Several signature paintings, analysis and biographical materials are featured in the art history text Pictures and Power: Haudenosaunee and Iroquoian Paintings and Visual Representation, A.D. 166-2004 (University of Oklahoma Press). Others have been included in the history text As Long as the Grass Shall Grow and Rivers Flow (Harcourt Brace) the Iroquois Voices, Iroquois Visions anthology (Bright Hill), and the journal, The Cream City Review. In 2006, the Office of Multicultural Affairs at Canisius College commissioned a painting from Gansworth, “From One Dance, Creation,” which is now permanently on display in the campus’s Bouwhuis Library. This painting was also the cover art for the Fall 2014 Cream City Review. Another painting was commissioned for the cover Sherman Alexie's First Indian on the Moon.
Work of his, fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, and visual art, has appeared or is forthcoming in the journals, The Boston Review, The Kenyon Review, Third Coast, Blueline, Stone Canoe, Cold Mountain Review, Many Mountains Moving, FICTION, Poetry International, Sentence, New York Quarterly, Superstition Review, Provincetown Arts, Short Story, Yellow Medicine Review, Shenandoah, The Cream City Review, Slipstream, phati'tude, UCLA's American Indian Culture and Research Journal and American Indian Quarterly, in the anthologies, Growing Up Native American (Morrow); Blue Dawn, Red Earth (Doubleday); American Tensions (New Village Press); Ownership (Imagination & Place Press); A Usable Past (University of Bordeaux Press, France); Iroquois Voices, Iroquois Visions (Bright Hill); The Second Word Thursdays Anthology (Bright Hill); Stories for Winter Nights (White Pine); Fishing for Chickens (Persea); Genocide of the Mind (The Nation Books); Eating Fire, Tasting Blood (Thunder’s Mouth); Children of the Dragonfly (University of Arizona Press) and Nothing but the Truth: An Anthology of Native American Literature(Prentice Hall), on Roadkillbasa, a performance audio tape and in Quartet, a just buffalo literary center, inc. chapbook.
Gansworth was an invited speaker at the National Book Festival, held on the National Mall, September 2013 (click here to see his presentation). Extra Indians was the recipient of an American Book Award in 2011, A Half-Life of Cardio-Pulmonary Function was voted to the number 3 position on the National Book Critics Circle “Good Reads” List in the Poetry Category for Spring 2008, and Mending Skins won a PEN Oakland-Josephine Miles National Literary Award in 2006. Extra Indians was also selected for a Community Reads program, through the College of Menominee Nation, which was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Gansworth was invited to write the entry for American Indian Literature in the Encyclopedia of New York State. He is a member of the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers & Storytellers, the Native Writers Circle of the Americas, is listed in the Directory of American Poets & Fiction Writers and has received Writer-in-Residence awards from, The Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities, just buffalo literary center, inc. as well as at his home institution, Canisius College. He was also awarded an Artist’s Residency at the Seaside Institute, in Seaside, Florida and has received a Special Opportunities Stipend Award from the New York Foundation for the Arts and an Individual Artist’s Grant from the Constance Saltonstall Foundation. In 2008 and again in 2014, he was a keynote speaker at the Native American Literature Symposium.
He served 11 years on the Board of Directors of Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center and has served terms on panels for the Arts Council of Buffalo and Erie County and the New York State Council on the Arts Literature Panel, and on the Artists Advisory Committee for the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Administration for Native Americans. He was also an artist in the Herd About Buffalo Project.
Gansworth's work is a commentary on the oral tradition existing within Haudenosaunee culture and its fluid nature. He uses iconography recognizable in the context of the mythic Haudenosaunee world, yet alters it to reflect issues relevant to a more contemporary Haudenosaunee existence.
Gansworth’s books have been adopted for courses at the following institutions:
Buffalo State College; Colgate University; College of Menominee Nation; the College of St. Catherine; College of St. Rose; Hamilton College; Hartwick College; Jamestown Community College; Kenyon College; Institute of American Indian Arts; Macalester College; McMaster University; Michigan State University; Minnesota State University Mankato; North Country Community College; Purdue University; St. Thomas University; State University of New York(SUNY) Fredonia; SUNY Cortland; SUNY Oneonta; SUNY Potsdam; SUNY New Paltz; University of Minnesota Morris; University of Wisconsin Madison; Washington State University; Western Washington University; University of Denver; University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Westfield State University; University of Kent, Canterbury; University of Nevada, Las Vegas; Yale University.