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May 3, 2018 the show “Lazy Stitch” opened. Organized by artist Cannupa Hanska Luger the promotional material for the show reads “…
AZY STITCH exhibition opened May 3 at Ent Center for Contemporary Art UCCS Galleries of Contemporary Art
Colorado Springs, CO. Organized by Cannupa Hanska Luger with collaborating artists Chip Thomas, Jesse Hazelip, Kali Spitzer, Kathy Whitman & 1000 Tiny Mirrors. Lazy Stitch is on exhibition through July 21, 2018
Contemporary artists from diverse backgrounds work together in collaboration with artist Cannupa Hanska Luger to present a new exhibition that investigates the interconnectedness of the human story. Through social engagement, public art, monumental sculpture, mural installation, photography, performance and wearable sculptural regalia, Lazy Stitch takes the relationship of the bead and the thread as its context, co-creating narrative about life on this planet.
“What constitutes a bead is the hole. It holds the thread. The voided matter actually creates the function of the object. This void becomes the potential for connection. In this respect, finding value in the relationship between humans acknowledges the importance of intersecting experiences which create a larger narrative.” -Cannupa Hanska Luger
The term lazy stitch describes a sewing methodology often used in Indigenous beadwork. Individual multi-colored beads are threaded and sewn, one row at a time, eventually revealing a complex image when all rows are complete. The lazy stitch is an approach to craft-making, but also represents a value system in which each individual is important to the whole. Lazy Stitch uses this metaphor as a way to explore contemporary issues through collaborative practice, while revealing the potential for collective social agency.”
This past February I spent a weekend with Cannupa, artist Cheyenne Randall and curator Erin Joyce. It was this time that afforded me the opportunity to learn stories about deities from the Mandan Hidatsa Arikara of North Dakota. Cannupa gave the framework of the warrior twins Big Medicine and Black Medicine (whom he referred to as “The One Who Checks” and “The One Who Balances”). For this show he imagined them as spirit guides who returned to the material plane to remind those who know, those who read the signs that it’s time for us to address our environment + social injustices. Cannupa and Cheyenne spent a day dressed in the regalia Cannupa and his mom, Kathy Whitman made for spirit beings as they went about their day engaging in acts of civil disobedience with the infrastructure of the extractive fossil fuel industry, getting food from a local trading post and getting gas from another trading post. A day in the life with the hero archetypes…
tintype photo by kali spitzer with the beaded portrait created by cannupa + various communities collaborating with the project by making clay beads.
jesse hazelip pasteups of bomber buffaloes
decorated ceramic buffalo skulls + barbed wire sculpture by cannupa + jesse
rope performance by 1000 tiny mirrors
the warrior twins battling the extractive fossil fuels industry beast
Limited edition (50), hand-pulled screen print “spirits in a material world.” One hundred percent of sales from the first 25 prints sold (at $50/print) resulted in $1250 being donated to the National Women’s Association of Canada. They state on their website “…The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) has worked for more than four decades to document the systemic violence impacting Indigenous women, girls, their families, and communities. From 2005 to 2010, NWAC’s Sisters In Spirit (SIS) Initiative confirmed 582 cases of missing and/or murdered Indigenous women and girls over a span of twenty years and worked to raise awareness of this human rights issue. ” The remaining 25 prints will be sold through Justseeds.org.
19 x 25, one color hand pulled screen print on archival paper; edition of 75. This print was made originally for School of the Americas Border Encuentro 2017. $50.
Three Wee Kings …………… Colonialist version
Free Wee Kings …………….Abolitionist version
We Free Kings ……………. Roland Kirk version, 1961
2 color, hand pulled, limited edition print of 50 on archival paper. $50
npr’s new “fully awake” ads: http://www.adweek.com/creativity/nprs-new-ads-promise-to-help-you-become-fully-awake-to-the-truth/
full 30 second spot:
Discussion from Facebook with my friend and activist Lane Hall regarding working with commercial entities and the dangers one may not have considered in contributing to the society of the spectacle…
Lane Hall I love your work – the roadside stands, the water towers, homages to the people involved in the area. I love your amazing facility with images, especially close-ups. I am happy for you with this NPR opportunity, but not sure about it. It makes me uneasy, just as the requests for OLB as advert (regardless of the affiliation) has done the same (which we haven’t pursued as a general policy)… I do respect that you must have done some soul searching to do this, and came out with it as a personal positive, so am not saying this to rain on the parade here, but it really does change your work!
me: i wish i had the time to pursue seeking nonprofit status and to do fundraising and grants. as a one person operation working a 40 hour a week job whose primary passion is just getting work up i can’t do it all. sadly, i’ll have more time to pursue this once i retire but i’lm no longer be living on the reservation. with regard to the ad, i wish it’d been for “democracy now” or “free speech tv” but alas, it was npr. i guess the question is if i were given the opportunity to do this again, would i? at this point i don’t know.
If your mind could really see
You’d know you’re color the same as me
Pardon me, brother, as you stand in your glory
I know you won’t mind if I tell the whole story
Get yourself together, learn to know your side
Shall we commit our own genocide
Before you check out your mind?
I know we’ve all got problems
That’s why I’m here to say
Keep peace with me and I with you
Let me love in my own way
We people who are darker than blue
Are we gonna stand around this town
And let what others say come true?
We’re just good for nothing they all figure
A boyish, grown up, shiftless jigger
Now we can’t hardly stand for that
Or is that really where it’s at?
We people who are darker than blue
“We Are the People Who Are Darker Than Blue”
Curtis Mayfield 1970
In 1998 a physician buddy who was working for the CDC in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire managing a HIV education and treatment project invited me to shoot a photo essay on the work they were doing. We spent time in hospitals, outreach clinics that did hiv testing + treatment, birth control counseling, and with hiv/aids support groups. Although it was an emotionally exhausting 2 weeks I witnessed a lot of heartfelt support + love amongst the people impacted by the disease. I witnessed 20 people burst into cheers and cry tears of happiness when they were able to establish a phone connection with one of their members of the AIDS support group. The last place I visited was an orphanage for children with HIV/AIDS or whose parents died from AIDS.
One might suspect an AIDs orphanage in an impoverished country to be a depressing place but I have honestly never seen a place so much spirit, hope and optimism. Kids, given the opportunity, will be kids.
(my artist statement for the group show “between beauty + demise” art space new haven, ct. curated by erin joyce.)
This past weekend was spent at the SOAW Border Encuentro in Tucson, AZ and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. The U.S. Army School of the Americas, now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, is located at Fort Benning, Georgia. As stated on Wikipedia “The School of the Americas was founded in 1946 and from 1961 was assigned the specific goal of teaching “anti-communist counterinsurgency training,” a role which it would fulfill for the rest of the Cold War. In this period, it educated several Latin American dictators, generations of their military and, during the 1980s, included the uses of torture in its curriculum.In 2000/2001, the institute was renamed to WHINSEC.:233 ”
“During the Cold War Colombia supplied the largest number of students from any client country.:17 As the Cold War drew to a close around 1990, United States foreign policy shifted focus from “anti-communism” to the War on Drugs, with narcoguerillas replacing “communists”.:10
“School of the Americas Watch is an advocacy organization founded by former Maryknoll Father Roy Bourgeois and a small group of supporters in 1990 to protest the training of mainly Latin American military officers, by the United States Department of Defense, at the School of the Americas (SOA). Most notably, SOA Watch conducts a vigil each November at the site of the academy, located on the grounds of Fort Benning, a U.S. Army military base near Columbus, Georgia, in protest over human rights abuses committed by some graduates of the academy or under their leadership, including murders, rapes and torture and contraventions of the Geneva Conventions.”
Since 2016 School of the Americas Watch moved their vigil from Fort Benning, GA to the border wall in Nogales to protest the militarization of the border. As taken from the SOAW website “…SOA Watch is a nonviolent grassroots movement working to close the SOA / WHINSEC and similar centers that train state actors such as military, law enforcement and border patrol. We strive to expose, denounce, and end US militarization, oppressive US policies and other forms of state violence in the Americas. We act in solidarity with organizations and movements working for justice and peace throughout the Americas.”
Proceedings began in Tucson with a block printing workshop by fellow Justseeds member Thea Gahr.
My collaborators in creating the image used for the backdrop, Raechel Running and Thea Gahr. (The above 3 photos are by Saiyare Refaei.)
That evening there was a vigil at Eloy Detention Center outside Tucson. Opened in 1994 Eloy Detention Center is a private prison contracted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement where immigrants from surrounding cities are detained sometimes for years. The center houses both men and women. An investigation by The Arizona Republic in 2016 found the center to have the highest number of deaths in the U.S. There have been 15 deaths since 2003 including 5 suicides. One of the more moving aspects of the vigil was seeing silhouettes of detainees in windows who communicated with demonstrators by turning lights on + off in their cells and by banging on windows. We learned that the price the detainees pay for this communication is a restriction of their privileges such as visitations with family and legal representation.
The time in Nogales included workshops, speeches, music and art. One of the more moving moments included the arrival and participation of a group of activists from Oaxaca who traveled 3 days to participate. Their journey included stopping along the way to meet with and lend solidarity to other immigration grass roots groups.
(The 2 photos above are by Saiyare Refaei.)
Screen printed posters were made at the event and were given away for free. We also printed on t shirts and other pieces of clothing provided by participants.
Thea getting assistance from across the border.
Sweet sage smudge blessing through the border wall with crosses along the bottom of the wall bearing the names of migrants who died over the past year while crossing the Sonoran Desert or in detention.
Crosses with a name of the deceased are raised as people say “presente!” upon hearing the names of those who have perished trying to cross the Sonoran Desert in pursuit of their dreams. An image of hope saying “tear down the walls; build up the people” is in the background.
- An end to US economic, military and political intervention in Latin America
- Demilitarization and divestment of the borders
- An end to the racist systems of oppression that criminalize and kill migrants, refugees and communities of color
- Respect, dignity, justice and the right to self-determination of communities
- An end to Plan Mérida and the Alliance for Prosperity
End of the encuentro but the struggle continues…
gangster of love, jerrel singer
from hyuro’s wall in kayenta at dee’s laundromat, 2014
Brazilian photographer and painter Raul Zito was a guest of the Painted Desert Project August 4 – 11, 2017. Before coming Zito and I talked a bit about the importance of using local, culturally sensitive imagery here on the reservation. In light of his short stay this wasn’t possible and he opted to share Brazilian imagery. While few people he encountered on the reservation were knowledgable about Brazil Zito was pleasantly surprised to learn from a local family who follow bull riding that the top two ranked bull riders on the Professional Bull Riders Association tour currently are Brazilian – Kaique Pacheco and Eduardo Aparecido. Three of the top 10 bull riders in the world are Brazilian. As Zito said “Brazil is now known for more than samba, sex + soccer!”
Collaboration with Jerrel Singer, downtown Flagstaff. The dope thing about this installation is that the guy follows you 180 degrees as you walk past him.
At the Crossroads old trading post
Indigenous woman of the Amazon smoking a traditional pipe, Black Mesa Junction
At the Hive, Phoenix
From the Form + Concept website regarding the Broken Boxes Podcast show
Broken Boxes features the art and ideas of over 40 visual artists, filmmakers, sound artists, activists, performance artists and community organizers from around the world who are effecting change through their work. The show is co-curated by Ginger Dunnill and Cannupa Hanska Luger, and all invited artists have participated in an interview on Dunnill’s Broken Boxes Podcast over the past 2 years.
“This is a celebration for the artists who have contributed their time and energy to the Broken Boxes exhibition,” says Dunnill. “Their work continues to lift up our communities and sustain our growth and vibrancy as human beings.”
The show runs from August 18 – October 21, 2017 at Form + Concept Gallery in Santa Fe, NM.
“Meditation on a cloth signifier”
Breeze + Ian Kuali’i
Ian Kuali’i creating a paper cut portrait.
Winona LaDuke with Keri Pickett who made the documentary “First Daughter and the Black Snake.” The film follows environmentalist Winona LaDuke as she fights to block an Enbridge pipeline threatening sacred wild rice watersheds and her tribe’s land in northern Minnesota. The “Prophecy of the 7th Fire” says a “black snake” will bring destruction to the earth. We will have a choice of two paths. One is scorched, and one is green. For Winona (Ojibwe for “first daughter”), the “black snake” is oil trains and pipelines. When she learns that Canadian-owned Enbridge plans to route a new pipeline through her tribe’s 1855 Treaty land, she and her community spring into action to save the sacred wild rice lakes and preserve their traditional indigenous way of life. The Broken Boxes Podcast show opening coincided with Winona’s birthday.
Traditional dancers at Indian Market.
photo by Nancy Hill
advertisement for the show on eye lounge, roosevelt street in phoenix
installation at coconino center for the arts
Artist statement for Hope + Trauma in a Poisoned Land
Coconino Center for the Arts August 12, 2017 – October 28, 2017
While many people may be aware of the invaluable contribution of Diné Code Talkers during World War II, few are cognizant of the contribution of Diné uranium miners towards the end of WWII and during the Cold War. Anglos first discovered uranium on the reservation in 1943. Diné miners worked over 500 mines on the reservation until uranium prices dropped in the mid 1980s.
Initially mining company supervisors + public health officials thought the Diné were immune to cancer since their rates were low relative to the national average. More than 5 million pounds of yellowcake was mined which in the process released heavy metals, radon gas and low level radiation from the rock. By 1950 the Public Health Service knew radiation levels at the mines exceeded levels considered safe but did nothing for 2 years.
In May of 1952 the Public Health Service and the Colorado Health Department published a paper called “An Interim Report of a Health Study of the Uranium Mines and Mills.” The levels of radioactive radon gas and radon particles (known as radon daughters), were so high in reservation mines they recommended wetting down rocks while drilling to reduce dust which the miners breathed; giving respirators to the workers; mandating daily showers, frequent changes of clothing, loading the rocks into wagons immediately after being chipped from the walls to decrease time for radon to escape and for miners to receive pre-employment physicals. Sadly, the recommendations were ignored and the Public Health Service was complicit.
Similar to the attitude of the Public Health Service towards southern African-American men in the Tuskegee Syphilis Study from 1932 to 1972 to determine the natural course of syphilis in the human body (even after the discovery of penicillin in 1928), the PHS decided in 1954 to allow natural events to unfold in the mines and the miner’s lungs without explaining the hazards involved.
Economics influenced the woeful state of events on the Navajo nation. In 1955 the Navajo nation received $625,000 a year in uranium royalties which provided about 25% of the annual budget. In light of this, tribal authority at that time demonstrated little interest in learning the hazards of uranium mining. By 1956 the United States was the world’s leading provider of uranium thanks to the Navajo nation. Monument Valley provided nearly 1.4 million tons of uranium ore to the American people. At the same time the PHS recorded the first death of a 48 year old Anglo mining foreman at the Monument Valley Mine Number 2. He died of lung cancer.
By 1960 the PHS definitively declared that uranium miners faced an elevated risk of pulmonary cancer. However, it wasn’t until June 10, 1967 that the Secretary of Labor issued a regulation declaring that “…no uranium miner could be exposed to radon levels that would induce a higher risk of cancer than that faced by the general population.” By this time it was too late. In the 15 years after the uranium boom the cancer death rate among the Diné doubled from the early 1970s to the late 1990s. During this period the overall U.S. cancer death rate declined.
As a physician at a small clinic on the Navajo nation since 1987 many of my patients have suffered and continue to suffer the effects of uranium mining. I asked a co-worker whose father worked as a uranium miner in the mid 60s and who died of a uranium related cancer if she’d share with me any memorabilia she had of her father from that period. She shared with me stories of her dad and provided photographs from that period. Her mother died of a uranium related cancer and she has an older brother presently suffering from a uranium related cancer.
I chose to work with a translucent fabric to emphasize the penetrative, see through nature of radioactive material and to place the viewer in the perspective of a radon daughter. The see through material also references the ephemeral, fragile and transient nature of our life experience at a time when the new Secretary of Energy seeks to “make nuclear cool again” in a new atomic age.
Rose Hurley and her great grandson in Bitter Springs