gangster of love, jerrel singer
from hyuro’s wall in kayenta at dee’s laundromat, 2014
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
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2011
eu amo o brasil!
big shout out to raul zito, photographer and wheat paste artist in sao paulo, brasil. i’ve been following his work on various street art blogs and learned through flickr he’s been following mine as well. here’s an example of his work in sao paulo.
he and i got in touch with one another late 2010 and he offered to get a piece of mine up in sao paulo. the piece isn’t finished yet but here’s what he’s done so far. i absolutely love it. he put me beside magrela mag who did the piece on the second apartment in the first photo (up top). sweet! i love the way jamaal is flying into the mama bird’s mouth, through the basketball hoop while the beautiful, nude woman checks it all out. wicked piece!
stay tuned. he’ll be getting files of his to me soon to paste here. how cool is that?!
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2011
it never fails. whenever i do a big installation, it rains. such was the case last week and this weekend in phoenix. so after a week, stephanie’s photo on the billboard, the collab with breeze, is already starting to come down. one week later. that hurts. steve, julia’s husband and partner in managing the hive, said he’d try to paste her back up. i left some wheat paste with him that had started to turn sour. yum.
meanwhile, i met niba yesterday. he’s a photographer who is based in tucson, i think. it was one of those moments when virtual reality becomes real and you meet someone from your social networking sites. in truth, i thought niba, also known as “dead now” on twitter was a woman. o well. instead, he’s a great guy with 2 beautiful children. here are some of his images from yesterday’s installation. thanks niba!
i mentioned above that raul zito of sao paulo pasted one of my pieces in sao paulo. i returned the favor + pasted one of his images in phoenix. what comes around…
shout out to the british two tone movement
kicking it with breeze + erin gramzinski
July 9, 2017
I don’t often read posts from back in the day when I started pasting especially posts found on my Blogspot site. (I miss that url – http://www.speakingloudandsayingnothing.blogspot.com, aka “yo mama.”) It’s fun seeing my enthusiasm for everything about the art form. In this case it’s especially exciting to read through these posts from early 2011 to reflect on how long I’ve been aware of Zito’s work and to remember that dreams can come true. He’ll be coming to the rez in just under a month. Full circle. Yay!
On a hot day on the Colorado Plateau in early June Chicago based writer + street artist “Looks_1” (Ruben Aguirre) met with Twyla Hunt to paint her food truck. Ruben, Twyla’s mom, Mary + Twyla discussed what he might paint while Twyla’s son swam in the sprinkler…
florence with her portrait of she + gloria
hosteen buck navajo with his portrait
portraits of florence + bahe ketchum
Washington, DC based artist, community organizer + activist Kate Deciccio recently completed a 2 week project with the Navajo Mountain Chapter House. Here’s what she said about her experience…
I arrived to Navajo Mountain, Naatsis’aan and met with Lorena Atene, Community Services Coordinator & Hank Stevens, Chapter President to talk about their vision for the project. “What is the purpose of the art? What stories are we trying to tell through this project?” I asked. Lorena & Hank shared several main objectives.
We want to engage our youth in something creative where they explore the mythology of the mountain & also have a chance to be expressive.
We want to honor the importance of the struggle to protect Bear Ears Monument for its significance as a place where healers collect medicine, hold ceremonies & hunt.
We want art for the Stronger & Healthier Navajo Nation & Eehaniih Celebrations in July & August. Specifically Eehaniih honors the people who were able to avoid internment by hiding in the canyons behind the mountain, our veterans, our elders & people who have left & returned to our community.
The next morning Lorena & I were off make house visits to elders who she & Hank felt embodied the spirit of Eehaniih. We knocked on Grandpa Buck Navajo’s hogan & he & his daughter invited us in for a visit filled with stories about his 84 years of healing. Grandpa Buck is animated but his speech is quiet & I don’t know Navajo. Thankfully his daughter Lena & Lorena were there to translate.
“I began studying ceremonies when I was 10. I’m 94 now, the oldest medicine man here, and when I was 18, people from this community began going to fight WWII,” Buck shared. He went on to talk about all that he’s seen and the responsibility of the medicine man to care for the community during, WWII, the Korean War, land partition, livestock reduction, the Vietnam War, Desert Storm & today. He was light & warm & pointed to boxes of fresh Navajo tea and the tobacco he was chopping on the floor. While talking about ceremonies that took him years to learn, the use of singing & baskets, he also made jokes & shared the Spanish words he learned from his Mexican co-workers when he worked on the railroad, “Nada Mamacita!”
I would have been happy staying all day listening to Grandpa’s Buck’s stories but I took his photograph and Lorena & I headed to meet Gloria & Florence. Gloria grew up in Navajo Mountain and left with her husband to live in Chicago for 44 years. She lives down the hill from Florence who has spent her entire life caring for herds of sheep and goats who graze in the giant open pastures between their houses tucked behind the mountain. Gloria was eager to sit down, drink pink lemonade & reminisce about her days riding horses & how she met her husband. I was curious to learn more about the corner of her living room dedicated to Elvis but she wanted to share about how her son married an Indian girl who she loves but that she always tell him, “You married the wrong kind of indian.”
Meanwhile Florence kept peeking her head out the door, looking up the hill, noting that it was hot & that the sheep & goats were in the coral. Despite that Florence who have been just fine avoiding photos all together, I followed Gloria’s lead & photographed them together both inside & in front of the hogan.
Lastly we reached out to the family of Bahe Ketchum, one of the Navajo Code Talkers who was from Navajo Mountain & died just a few years ago. His son Arthur shared photos and new articles about his dad’s experience in WWII.
For the next few days I split my time between rendering the portraits to make stencils of the elders & painting a mural in the meeting house that features the native plants used most often in Navajo plant medicine.Thanks to Nizhóní, I had great help and input making it possible to finish the wall in just 4 days.
The following week I met the 7 student workers assigned to the art project. Lorena was like, “If you can please paint, 8 palettes for the park, 6 picnic tables that match, 2 5×12′ canvases & if you finish…. I have a list of other spots where we’d love art.” No big deal.
The youth were like, “We’re not sure what to expect but if we can spray paint, we’re on board!”
We looked at some Navajo textiles & pottery designs, talked about pattern structures & symmetry & began painting. By the end of day 1, the kids had painted all 8 palettes with beautiful layered patterns and were each beginning to experiment with fading and color transitions. As the week unfolded, we researched the connections between the land features & Navajo deities. The students talked to their parents & grandparents about the stories they had learned about the land and we quickly realized that depending on each clan, the significance of each place really varied. Some people thought Rainbow Bridge was very sacred, other people said, “That place doesn’t mean much to us, I’ve walked under there.” Some people believed the Twins, the children of the Sun resided in the mountain, other people believed they lived in a mountain near Window Rock. Here I was attempting to support the kids to discover “The Story,” but we learned together that actually there were many stories & a diversity of connection & offense to each perspective. The students collectively agreed that to them, being from Navajo Mountain means feeling deeply connected to the beauty and vastness of the land. They shared about how grateful they feel for living in a place where there is very little commercial development & we made big lists of all of the animals & plants that to them capture the essence of their community. Together we worked out a mural composition integrating patterns from rugs, petroglyphs, animals, & text about how the land makes the kids feel.
Each day we talked about the strengths and struggles of Navajo Mountain to support youth. The kids agreed that small town drama and feelings of boredom & isolation drive alcoholism & depression for many people in the community, that lack of access to healthy food and opportunity has big implications on people’s ability to believe they can do what they want with their lives. They helped cut out the large stencils of Grandpa Buck, Gloria, Florence & Bahe and we talked about what they hope to accomplish in the community as they become leaders.
By the end of the week I found myself inventing small jobs so they could work independently and experiment developing their individual styles. They paint the chapter’s backhoe, cold planer, electric meters, a bunch of picnic tables, and definitely a few things without permission.
Spending 12 days painting at the Navajo Mountain chapter house was an opportunity to be with people and attempt to create art that reflects back all that the community shared with me about who they are and how they see themselves. Wrapping up last night, we agreed that in our time together, we were exceptionally productive but that also projects like this unveil how much more could be possible….. What could happen if we committed to using art to explore community stories all year long? How could we support the students to learn the skills to resist depression and alcoholism by engaging in art? I feel good about leaving this project with new questions and inspiration. Huge thanks to The Painted Desert Project for getting the art & dialogue started.
Thank you Kate for your passion, dedication + amazing work!
The Dinè nation is rich with oil, natural gas, coal, uranium + water in aquifers. Yet, as a result of decades of being treated as a colonized nation approximately 25% of the 180,000 people living on the rez don’t have running water (or electricity though more people are getting solar systems).
This new 2 color, 16″ x 25″ hand pulled screen print, edition of 100 will be used to raise money for Dig Deep, a private California based company bringing water (+ solar energy) to the rez through the Navajo Water Project. The prints go for $70 including shipping with 100% of funds going to the Navajo Water Project. If interested, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.