Historically, art has helped people process emotions during times of strife, more important than ever now as each day seems to bring new trauma to the surface. Throughout the pandemic and social unrest, artists have continued to create and viewers to engage.
Three Flagstaff galleries of current and upcoming exhibits present a variety of ideas and feelings.
Journey to Balance: Migration and healing in three Hopi murals
Although the three murals currently on display at the Museum of Northern Arizona were created more than a decade ago, they continue to resonate with the moment in which we are today.
“Large-scale paintings tell a story of the human journey through cycles of chaos and discord to places of wholeness and balance,” a press release from the museum explained. “Hopi artists Michael Kabotie and Delbridge Honanie mixed inspiration from ancestral murals at Awat'ovi, European cubism and Mexican revolutionary muralists to create a new ‘language beyond language that we would paint so that all the world could see.’
“These paintings offer a graphic retelling of Hopi stories and compelling messages for our times. Each of the three murals presents a dynamic relationship between order and chaos, but ultimately offers hope that by embracing our shadow side, our cultural differences, and the hard work of healing, we can find our way to life in balance and harmony.”
Kabotie (1942-2009), whose Hopi name Lomawywesa means “Walking in Harmony,” playfully meshed his own Hopi traditions with myth and imagery from around the world. Honanie (1946-2017), or Coochsiwukioma, which means “Falling White Snow,” was a carver, painter and teacher with a witty sense of humor, and was honored as an Arizona Indian Living Treasure in 2006.
“It is a graphic that gathers up the fragments of the past so that the wholeness held in the memory and conscience of our elders can be shared with our young ones and with those who have forgotten the stories of origins, of journeys and union, of the early times when the clans gathered and through enhancement and prayer became one people, became Hopi,” the artists explained when their works were first on display. “We blended our voices and vision with those of our ancestors in a new effort to restore our political and cultural sovereignty.”
Kabotie and Honanie incorporated sand from their Second Mesa home into the gesso as they prepared the canvases for paint, creating a rough texture that mimics ancient adobe, masonry and mud plaster architectural surfaces.
Read more about the exhibit and artists in a full-length article next week, or watch a virtual tour by Dr. Kelley Hays-Gilpin and Ed Kabotie at youtu.be/bO5-9brMfqc.
MNA is open for reservations Thursday-Sunday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission tickets are $12 and must be purchased in advance at www.musnaz.org. To reserve a time slot for a family group of four or more, email email@example.com with the requested time and date. All visitors are required to wears masks at all times. "Journey to Balance" has also been purposely arranged to maximize the open space so visitors can feel comfortable social distancing.
Resilient Matriarchy: Indigenous Women’s Art in Community
This past Friday, the newest installation from the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany’s Open Doors: Art in Action series debuted online. “Resilient Matriarchy: Indigenous Women’s Art in Community” features art, poetry and reflections by Tacey M. Atsitty, Avis Charley, Lynnette Haozous, Monica Wapaha and Venaya Yazzie.
“We are Indigenous sisters, born of different mothers from across vast Indin’ Country,” Diné artist and curator Yazzie wrote in an introduction to the exhibit. “We stand in sisterhood in our understanding, in our portrayal of modern-day matriarchy as ‘neo-ceremony.’ Within our individual landscapes, we see, we hear, we taste, we smell, we touch the land, flora, fauna, and our people. In our diverse experiences we create a sacred solitude to balance the chaos of a modern society that remains foreign to our epistemologies and tribal mother tongues. Sisters from California to Maryland parallel each other’s daily rituals of 21st century life as brown Indigenous beings. Sisters in Apache lands and in Pueblo homes recreate female generational movements of healing empathy and compassion. Within our art are narratives of life, of survival, of resilience.”
Yazzie’s poetry and photography focuses on the concept of “Be Matriarch,” and she strives to reclaim the true historical past of Southwest Indigenous people, reaffirming identity, tribal tongue and ancestry.
Diné poet Tacey M. Atsitty is a PhD student at Florida State University whose work has been published in POETRY, EPOCH, Kenyon Review Online, Prairie Schooner, When the Light of the World was Bubdued, Our Songs Came Through: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry and more.
Diné painter and ledger artist Avis Charley uses the female form to celebrate Native empowerment. Her use of bold colors and intricate details on antique paper engages viewers with the humanity of the figures she depicts.
Multimedia artist Lynnette Haozous is Chiricahua Apache (of the San Carlos Apache Tribe), Diné and Taos Pueblo. She blends art and advocacy to raise awareness of injustices wrought in Indian Country, influenced by her experience living around her three tribes’ reservations in Arizona and New Mexico.
White Mountain Apache and Tohono O'odham artist Monica Wapaha uses her multimedia images to reflect the political realities of her existence as an Indigenous woman. Her goal is to make viewers think and ask questions.
Learn more in next month’s spring issue of Northern Arizona’s Mountain Living Magazine. Visit www.opendoorsartinaction.com to view the exhibit.
Dawn | a reflective exhibition
Featuring paintings from Flagstaff artists Shonto Begay, Jill Sans, Jacques Cazaubon Seronde, Jihan Gearon and Jerrel Singer, The HeArt Box's upcoming exhibit “Dawn | a reflective exhibition” showcases the rawness of creation, the birth that makes movement forward out of the darkness into the light, from winter into the early blooming of spring.
“When we have been stripped down, standing bare, after the loss; where do you go from there? The ignition of the fire within, from deep within our bellies. The hope in our hearts to dream again,” a press release described. “After the fog has cleared, the sharp clarity of a sunny day. What will you birth when asked to create? What is the story your hands will tell?”
Each artist is creating their own interpretation of this, the poetic visions to be revealed to each other and the community upon completion.
An online preview of “Dawn” will be available Thursday, Feb. 11, at 3 p.m. before the virtual opening Feb. 12 at 5:30 p.m. on Facebook Live. Visit www.theheartbox.space for more information, and check back here for interviews with the artists closer to the opening date.