Native Confluence: Sustaining Cultures
Ceramic Research Center, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ – 2009
In addition to the project “Always Becoming,” we participated with Athena’s aunt Nora Naranjo-Morse, in Tempe, Arizona on another museum project. The exhibition took part in three stages; Nora was responsible for one of them and another group called “Post Commodity” the other. The Canelo Project did the third. The exhibition, entitled Native Confluences: Sustaining Cultures, was an interesting process in that each group contributed to what had been done by the others. Peter Held, curator of the Ceramic Research, described the exhibition as an experimental process in combining individual artists into a group platform with them working more as community. Consequently, no one group could claim ownership of the work.
Post Commodity began the project by cutting a 4×4 ft hole in the concrete floor of the museum and stood it upright on a pedestal. There was an audio recording of a Pee Posh social dance performed by the collective. Never meeting any members of the group or discussing with them anything about the meaning of what they had done, we assumed it implied getting back to the earth. Nora and her group had created a series of clay and fabric sculptures called “Pods,” that contained seeds to imply growth.
When we arrived, the two prior installations seemed disconnected of each other and consequently we saw our role as one of weaving a thread of connection between the different pieces and making the overall space more inviting and enriched.
Without much of a plan we lined up the materials – clay, chopped straw, bamboo poles, reed mats, straw bales and a new element we had not used before -straw wattles (typically used for erosion control.) We began by creating a backdrop for the concrete piece and the pods by plastering creative shapes on the existing walls. We sculpted a straw bale bench to provide seating for visitors along with a sculpture out of the wattles that was just inside the entrance. We also brought in our friends Joe and Rebecca Ewan, professors of Landscape Architecture at ASU, to landscape the barren space left by removing the concrete from the floor. More in-depth descriptions of the exhibition can be found at these pair of blog posts.