A Long Overdue Update! ~ on Wilderness, Community, and Indigenous Solidarity

I’ve been very delinquent on updating this portion of my website, oops. Back in October of last year, I spent the month backpacking and camping throughout the SW high desert with Signal Fire, an organization that strives to connect creative individuals with wild spaces, public lands, and the ecological and cultural narratives that converge within those landscapes. Along with 10 other artists, I learned about the ecological diversity of these biomes, the resilience of those who have inhabited these territories for thousands of years, and the problems Indigenous communities today face due to extractive interests on Native lands.

One of our last nights in the backcountry. Snake Gulch, AZ.

As heart breaking as it was to see the devastating effects of mining, oil drilling, and uranium interests near or on Indigenous reservation lands firsthand, it was amazing and humbling to see the resilience and resolve of these communities to protect the lands they’ve walked for generations. As an Indigenous individual myself, I found a lot of strength in these communities and found it inspiring to see their determination for a more sustainable and just path forward.

Learning to make cordage with yucca as my teacher. Canyons of the Ancients, CO.

Learning to make cordage with yucca as my teacher. Canyons of the Ancients, CO.

The resulting cordage and raw materials collected throughout the duration of the trip. The yucca cordage (on the yellow bandana), contains dried dead yucca fibers from each of the four states I went to, the ancestral lands of the Pueblo, Hopi, Zuni, Ute, and Dinè peoples. The more refined cordage in my hands is made from the stripped outer stem layers of an unknown plant I collected near Montezuma, CO.

The resulting cordage and raw materials collected throughout the duration of the trip. The yucca cordage (on the yellow bandana), contains dried dead yucca fibers from each of the four states I went to, the ancestral lands of the Pueblo, Hopi, Zuni, Ute, and Dinè peoples. The more refined cordage in my hands is made from the stripped outer stem layers of an unknown plant I collected near Montezuma, CO.

Overall, this experience making in, thinking about, and moving through these landscapes was an immense fuel for my practice and continues to be. I have become increasingly interested in the environmental issues faced by other Indigenous communities across Turtle Island, and have begun a series of mixed-media paintings on the subject to reflect on my time spent in the southwest and speaking with Native elders there.

I highly recommend checking out Signal Fire’s website for more information on who they are, what they do, and their upcoming programming for 2019. They just released their list of residencies and wide open studios, more info here.

And, of course, this isn’t the end. To more good things in this next lunar year ~

(all images except last: credit Ryan Pierce, Signal Fire Arts)