I am presenting at the College Art Association conference on February 15, 2019 in NYC!
“Land Art Reconsidered: Land Use, Water Rights and Indigenous Sovereignty”
panel discussion at the 2019 College Art Association conference on Friday, February 15 between 10:30 am – 12:00 pm at the Hilton Midtown 2nd floor Gramercy East in New York City.
From the Center of the Earth: The Land Art of Pueblo Artist Nora Naranjo-Morse
Anya Montiel, PhD
When the Albuquerque Public Art Program supported an outdoor sculptural commission to commemorate the arrival of Spanish explorer Juan de Oñate into present-day New Mexico, Santa Clara Pueblo artist Nora Naranjo-Morse contributed Numbe Whageh, the city’s first work of land art in 2005. Unlike the other artists’ sculpture celebrating European settlement and history, Naranjo-Morse countered the colonial narrative by creating an earthwork based in Indigenous cosmologies and constructed with native vegetation. Translating as “Our Center Place,” the mounds of earth spiraled into a subterranean place, representing the center of Pueblo creation. The following year she won a national sculptural commission in Washington, D.C., and built Always Becoming, a set of five figures representing a familial unit, dissimilar from D.C.’s memorials to prominent individuals or military victories. And like its title, each snowfall and rainstorm alters the organic surfaces of Always Becoming to transform the figures physically. Naranjo-Morse explained that, “The sculptures’ metaphor of community, home, and family not only conveys a universal theme to all peoples, but also enhances visitors’ experiences that they have entered a Native place.” Through examining two of Naranjo-Morse’s land art pieces, Numbe Whageh and Always Becoming, this paper addresses her artistic vision and process which is grounded in her indigenous worldview and upbringing in a family of female ceramicists. As Naranjo-Morse’s art re-indigenizes urban American landscapes, how have they been received by non-Native publics? How does her art challenge and disrupt colonial history, especially in places extoling European-American achievement?