Dana’s Blog 2009

January 11, 2009

Hello Everyone! I am now in Arizona for the first time. The airport parking lot was shaped like the Guggenheim in NYC, so I was off to a good start. Saw my first cactus on the side of the freeway and the underpasses are decorated with tribal pottery designs. Went to dinner in Scottsdale and felt like I was in a Native American fantasy land!! Will go back and shop soon!

Mary and going I to the desert this afternoon!

Monday January 12th, 2009

Went back to Scottsdale to buy authentic Native American goods! Luckily there were artists making art in front of a store. One has to have a steady hand to make sand paintings! I watched as his hand made the most delicate tiny feathers! He said after he finished the work, it would go back to being sand with mixed crushed stone. I bought a handmade necklace from a local woman. So…meeting the local artists, made my shopping a little less of a cultural tourist experience. I actually meet living, breathing local Native American artists.

Cultural tourism is fraught with issues of the socio-political, the difficult history that makes up North American tribal and settler histories, material cultural as the only thread of communication and in some cases the complete objectification of Native Americans.

There I was in the centre of it all.

I saw a live cowboy as well, singing sad love songs as he sat proudly upon his horse.

Whats up with those stuffed looking Indians sitting around on benches?? Take a picture with an Indian, but try and make sure they are alive and real! James Luna’s work..Take a picture with a Real Indian ( 2001) is still soooooooo fresh!!

Along with pink cowboy hat and hand tooled leather purse….I shopped Scottsdale!!!!

We drove to a local reservation and asked if we could take some pictures. We were granted permission. I wanted to become a cactus. Oddly, I brought lovely green hand woven silk scarf from India. The afternoon sun was hot, the large cactus looked like a relative of sorts – arms and all. The one we took pictures with, seemed old…tired even. Prickly, old and tired! But so beautiful at the same time. NEW – upon further reflection…the catus is my relative.

I am attempting to map my short visit here.

Had a house full of people at Mary’s – as she welcomed everyone to her home – all the artists and students. A wonderful social site to get to know each other before we begin the print making process.

I am pondering those lovely underpasses with tribal iconography, I believe the designs are from local pottery motifs and wonder if they were designed by local tribal people, or just a designer who appropriated the form. Cultural appropriation is such a dynamic phenomenon as its so linked to issues of power and the dehumanization of tribal peoples. In addition, the use of material culture as the only means to represent a people is problematic, as it suggests a void in humans knowing each other truly, and how do we deepen social relations and share our worldviews ?

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

Printing making is so hands on!! from all the different types of processes to paper to the machines! that actually apply the pigment. I think my work is almost resolved…more on that matter later!

We – artists – have been each assigned a “team” of grad students who guide us along in the process. A very generous act – since schools out for the winter! chill……………”Team Claxton” is fantastic and technically savvy.

Yesterday all the participating artists gave presentations – such an array of works, with so much common ground. From (Yazzie) video beds that consider miscegenation, to handmade go-carts driving around the desert fully equipped with video camera’s to document the artists renderings on the drawing board, (Garcia) to clay comic Indigenous hero’s protecting their land and culture and pin up girls in traditional regalia, (Kemp) to videos shot from a cell phone exploring the inner city homeless of Phoenix and print making ( mono silkscreen) that is to quick render to (Stevens) does anyone still SEW!! a glimpse into clothing and bead works and the importance of maintaining cultural traditions.

I sew!! So does my sister Kim! When people question – You sew?? I always comment..of course I do …I am Sioux! or of course I do…I am an Indian Woman! I am sew sweat dresses, sundance dresses and ribbon shirts.

This is my first blog. Likely the only. Since the boss, has spent the time to make this site, I wanted to contribute and experience what blogging is like!

I am from Canada and of course when ever I come to the USA I want to shop…ok I said it! After being a gringa! in Scottsdale ..I needed more! I lived in NYC for 3 years and liked MACY’S, BARNEY”S…so off we went last night and then had a massage at a local spa!

The life of an artist!! creating, pondering, being my tortured self!!! always wanting to reveal injustice…..well dressed!!

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

I am making an ink jet print with some another layer of another printing process, that I have forgotten the name of…more details later…but all is good with Team Claxton…I like saying that, I feel like a race car driver! As I scope out all the other artists projects, I am struck by a few things. First the creative flow of all the artists and the dedication of the department – meaning Mary Hood and all the grad students. Some teams stayed until 11 or so last night and others 7 or so…they begin at 9am – the process of print making is fussy!! no quick draw here and to make a limited edition with 5 days and auction off a set at the end of day 5 is ambitious, exciting and challenging annnnnnnnnd…all are up for the challenge!!

I went to see the Night Gallery where all the artists and students are having a group show. A space surrounded by a very large shopping area in Tempe. Sort of a large outdoor mall with a gallery space occupying one of the “stores” and a community partnership between Herberger College School of Art and the Tempe Marketplace. The space is packed with a small studio in the back, a grad show and then Map(ing): Working Proof – our show. The show was brought together quickly by Mary Hood, who initiated the print making residency. Upon entering the gallery space, at first I was slightly overwhelmed by all the work in such a small space and the array of context within each work. How were the works speaking together? Was there a connectivity between the works?

My video work HOPE is projected on a wall and Gunplay is displayed on a small portable DVD player. I looked around at the other works and we left.

Now that I have met all the artists in Map(ing): Working Proof, I look forward to going back and seeing all the works tonight, the curatorial intention has become clearer to me…I think.

I have come to realize how “institutionalized” I have become sometimes. My work has primarily been shown at large gallery’s and museums – the National Gallery of Canada, The Vancouver Art Gallery, The Winnipeg Art Gallery..ect. I have never shown in a “community” site before and never without temperature control!! Well..maybe once or twice 15 years ago! So…ok..I am processing here…is that what blogs are for? One of the students who was a gallery sitter at the gallery on Friday night said “ya! about a 100 people showed up, Saturday night was slower only 60. Wow..I thought..is this what it means to take art to the masses…consumers gleefully shopping and then “lured” into an art gallery – how wonderful is that.

The epi centre of art, is generally considered to be within the large institutions who are the cultural brokers of “good taste”, “refinement” and defining what is essentially good art and critically engaging in how we make culture through art… and they are good at it, respectfully and thankfully so. One of the key issues in the public gallery milieu is how to develop an audience with non-traditional gallery goers. How do we as cultural producers make our works available to larger publics who do not normally go the public institutions? Why …we simply rent a space at a shopping centre and hang the show!

Thursday, January 15, 2007

Everything is coming along nicely. Not alot of new news today, we are all finishing our projects and everything is wonderful at the Print Making Department at ASU. I am grateful to be here with my peers. And of course Team Claxton – Brett and Whitney are wonderful to work with.

Friday January 19th, 2009

Gosh…Team Claxton is finished! We just need to prepare the prints for signing…what a splendid process. So much to think about, such lovely people here. An intensive week, with many new friendships.
Went to Scottsdale again last night to Jason Garcia show…his work with clay are inspiring. As was the King Galleries with a renowned collection of pottery. I saw works by the “masters’ and weeped, upon looking at case full of Maria Martinez works…was altering. I have seen her works in books and the odd work in a public collection, but to see 20 of her works was a true blessings. And there was also a work by Blue Corn. I thought my trip to the south was complete. And then today, a local traditional singer sang a honor song for our works, the students, Mary, Joe, all of the artists…it was another blessing.

Yolanda’s beautiful feet move
to the sound
to the groove
to the sound of gourd
to the sound of the people
forever in my heart
Wopila, wopila Yolanda
forever in my heart

Monday, January 19th, 2009

Back home now in Vancouver. Its foggy and cold, but cool and refreshing. I went for a foggy walk on the seawall with my nephew today. I love the ocean air! The ducks are winter nesting so we saw hundreds of them.

The exhibition of the prints we made during the week was a smashing success at the Night Gallery. What an active place and brilliant idea to open a gallery in a super busy outdoor shopping mall, with a night market every week. There are water falls over huge fireplaces, lounging areas to visit in the outdoor walk ways around the shopping areas and the gallery! Our finished prints looked so great together! Steven Yazzie’s was a delicate image of a post modern dancer doing the sweep – he worked with an old school type of printing that looked like an old pioneer photograph…its a complex image and very intelligent work! Jason Garcia made a super hero with cape and all – the indigenous warrior here to save the day! he used an old school method that looks like early comic book style. Yolanda Hart Stevens work made me feel the weight and lightness of her traditional dancing…her small foot prints upon each print brought to life the power of ceremonial dance and how we need these things to survive as indigenous people. I love the cosmos! I love intercessors! Randy Kemp’s work were beautifully rendered and the narratives stayed close to the buffalo grass – meaning…close to our nations, our tribes, our histories. And my work…collapsed the traditional with the contemporary through the image of a young warrior – I titled the work ” He Who Transforms”.

Thank you desert, thank you print making, thank you everyone I met in Arizona.

I am Cactus.



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