Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Student Responses to the Current Exhibition: Ancestral Visions : Contemporary Voices

Responses by students in Art/Ethnic Studies 362: Native American Art, Spring 2013


The artist that stood out to me the most in the gallery was Jason Garcia. Mr. Garcia is Tewa, from Santa Clara Pueblo in New Mexico. He creates his art from the clay of his local town. Buckingham U. Badger-Bucky Badger is a hand processed clay tile, with mineral pigments used for color, created in 2013. The approximate size is 9” L x 6 3/4” W. Mr. Garcia is currently living in Madison, Wisconsin and is a graduate student in the Art Department at the University of Wisconsin. I chose to write about this piece of art because it directly ties to the Madison area and many themes that have been discussed in this art class.
                  I was lucky enough to meet Mr. Garcia when he visited our class to talk about his art. It was during this time when I learned that the badger is a sacred animal in Tewa culture. Mr. Garcia feels a special connection between himself and these animals. It was also very interesting that the school he is attending (the University of Wisconsin) uses the badger as their mascot. Mr. Garcia is relating the Madison culture with his own personal experiences as a Tewa person in his art work. In Mr. Garcia’s work of art you can clearly see the badger mascot standing in front of a typical University of Wisconsin building in the background. What makes this work stand out is the attention to detail presented in the Native symbols. Bucky is holding a bow and sporting other Native American clothing items such as a green arm band, head feather, and a sash. The clothing Bucky is dressed in comes from Tewa culture. Another very important symbol that is depicted in the art is the Tewa rain cloud at the top of the tile. Mr. Garcia explained the significance of the rain cloud to the Tewa people because of the dry climate they live in. He also considers the rain cloud as his signature on his art work.
                  It is my opinion that Mr. Garcia’s art fits the theme of Ancestral Visions: Contemporary Voices perfectly. By using the U.W. mascot of a badger, Mr. Garcia is taking a very common symbol for people in Wisconsin and adding the important influences of his own culture. The addition of these important personal and tribal items into the art allow for the “ancestral voices” to be heard through the contemporary imagery that we associate with the University of Wisconsin.


                  When I visited the exhibit Ancestral Visions: Contemporary Voices I found one piece which intrigued me more than the others. The piece was Tee Joopeja maawowagax, a mixed-media installation made in 2013 by Henry Payer of the Winnebago tribe, from Nebraska. I found this piece to be the most engaging of the pieces which were present at the exhibition.
                  Henry Prayer, being Winnebago, has roots in the Madison area. The Winnebago tribe is native to this area but was displaced to Nebraska. Even being displaced, Henry Payer still feels a connection to the Madison area and its land features. He shows this in his piece by displaying the topography of the area. Also included in the piece is the Madison lake chain, shown in relief. The relief brings the visitor’s view towards the lakes which are an important part of Native life.
                  Even the choice of the map show a connection with ancestors as it is dated almost a hundred years ago. This also shows how the landscape has changed since the time it was produced. On the map, many of the land plots are partitioned off to various land owners in sections of over 100 acres. Today these portions of the land are much more divided among landowners as the property values have risen.
                  The choice of using Madison phone books is another intriguing aspect of the piece. The phone books are very contemporary, in contrast to the ancestral meaning of the piece. The names which are contained in the phone books are the names of the people who are current residents of Madison. This also leads the visitor to draw comparisons to those who have lived in the area before.
                  Overall, this is a thoughtful and engaging piece which leads the visitor to new thoughts of what the Madison area has meant to its inhabitants over time. It also brings forth the question of what the Madison area will mean to its future inhabitants.


After viewing Ancestral Visions: Contemporary Voices, I chose to write about Jennifer Stevens and her work. I was inspired by her pieces and her Iroquois style of pottery-making. One of my favorite things that I have learned in this class is the different types of Native American pottery. What I liked best about Stevens’s work is that the pieces were different from most of the pottery we have viewed so far. The majority of the ceramic pots we have seen, mostly from the Southwest, have geometric shapes and lines and certain patterns painted on them. Each of Stevens’s pots has one or two figures carved into the clay: turtles, on Mother’s Honor, made in 2002, and Turtle Island, made in 2012. Another image she used was corn stalks, as in Harvest Bowl and Renew, both made in 2012.
Jennifer Stevens’ background story is what interested me the most. Stevens is from Green Bay, and she trained to be an opera singer. Her Oneida name is Wakohsiyo, meaning “Peacock.” She learned from a master Iroquois potter and learned the traditions that had been lost. Stevens hand builds her pots with coils and uses a paddle. I thought that this was quite interesting because when I was in my high school ceramics class we had to use a paddle to shape one of the pieces we created. It was quite hard to get the pieces even. I never would have guessed that her pieces were shaped using a paddle and since I know how hard this was for me, this gives me a new respect for her and how well-made her pieces are.
Overall, I was very inspired by Jennifer Stevens’ value of tradition used in pottery, the pottery itself, and Stevens’ background story. I think she is an inspiring, creative woman who creates beautiful artwork in the traditional ways of the Iroquois.


                  As a psychology student I am lacking in professional knowledge of artistic mediums and modes that are used, yet I have learned so much about this Native culture.  The exhibition Ancestral Visions: Contemporary Voices incorporates both Native and non-Native art that pushed me to contemplate the meaning beyond the mediums used by these artists.  In particular, John Hitchcock’s Passages Transformed caught my eye.  Hitchcock’s installation was one of two pieces in this exhibition that I saw as unconventional.  This piece incorporated numerous folded paper boats that are hung from the ceiling.  The weight of the paper varies and so does the design, which has led me to contemplate a few possible meanings in this installation.
                  First and foremost I was wondering about the design printed on the boats.  Some of the boats appear to be a heavier weight and have a black ink design on them.  The others seem to have a lighter weight and have grid lines on them.  They also have an ink design but the ink is not as dark.  I asked Sarah Stolte, the exhibition curator, if the difference in paper weights and design had anything do with a parallel between Native water transportation and the colonizers’ ways of water transportation during the early contact era.  Sarah told me that she was not aware if the artist had made that same parallel between the differences in paper and modes of transport.
                  The other parallel that I made with this piece was the use of something as non-Native as grid paper.  It was common post-contact for ledger drawings to be created by Native artists.  The design on the boats made of grid paper turned my attention to the history of the contact era and its impact on the art and culture of the Native people.  Some of the greatest representations of ritual and other aspects of life for these Tribes and Nations have been done on ledger paper. 
                  Although these parallels may not have been in the mind of this artist, the wonderful thing about this piece is that it is open to new exploratory dialogue to expand on Native and non-Native art.  This exhibition brings together artists, scholars, and students to continue the discussion of Native American art.  I am so grateful that I was able to see such an exhibition before I graduate from Edgewood.  It has expanded my understanding of Native cultures and encouraged me to continue to ask questions.


                  Jason Garcia, or Okuu Pin (meaning Turtle Mountain), is a contemporary artist from the Santa Clara Pueblo in New Mexico. A sample of his work is currently being exhibited in the Ancestral Visions: Contemporary Voices show at Edgewood College Gallery. His art demonstrates a knowledge and respect for the traditional practices of his heritage as well as keen insight into the nuances of a how those traditional practices contrast with modern American life.
                  Jason Garcia engages the tradition of pottery and ceramics among Pueblo peoples by painting his images on clay tiles. He collects, forms, and fires the clay using techniques traditional to Pueblo people.  There are much faster, more convenient ways of procuring and firing clay, but Garcia prefers to know where his materials come from, and to be involved in every step of the process. The paints and pigments he uses are also of organic material.
                  A number of his pieces, such as those from the Tewa Tales of Suspense series, depict important scenes from the history of the Santa Clara Pueblo. Others include ancestral clothing and symbols, or cultural icons like the Corn Maiden.  The simplified backdrops and flattened figures are reminiscent of the Santa Fe studio style art. Garcia is drawing from a wealth of personal and cultural inspiration when he creates his work.
                  Garcia also brings a contemporary voice to these traditional techniques and images in the subject matter of his work.  He incorporates pop culture imagery into his work to express the way in which Pueblo culture and contemporary American pop-culture have collided.  His Corn Maidens are seen with modern technology and corporation logos. The aforementioned Tewa Tales of Suspense series is painted in the style of a comic book cover. The piece Buckingham U. Badger-Bucky Badger ‘K’e ah’ portrays the familiar Madison mascot in Tewa clothing. Garcia is exploring the manner in which the cultural traditions of Native American people and the invasive qualities of the mainstream life style combine and create a complicated experience for the modern Native American.


The work of art I chose to reflect on is Buckingham V. Badger- Bucky Badger ‘K`e ah’, which is a hand processed clay tile, painted with mineral pigments, made in 2013. The artist, Jason Garcia, engages indigenous forms of visual expression and aspects of Native American culture in many ways. For example, the badger is a very important animal to the Tewa people. Garcia also incorporates many aspects of Tewa culture into what Bucky Badger is wearing, including traditional Native American clothing and a hunting bow.
Garcia also uses a cloud symbol from his Tewa culture in the piece. According to Garcia, this is how he signs a lot of his pieces and this is an important symbol for the Tewa people. He stated that the symbol is a rain cloud and the arrows coming out of the cloud represent lightning. He also explained the significance of the number of clouds; the six clouds represent the six directions of Tewa people, north, south, east, west, up, and down. He also engages indigenous forms of visual expression through the use of clay. Ceramics was an important art for his Tewa ancestors. This connects his art and himself to his ancestors.
Garcia brings a contemporary voice to his engagement with these ancestral visions in a very unique way in his piece. The badger is an important animal to the Tewa people and he depicted the UW-Madison’s mascot, which is a very contemporary and modern rendition of a badger, because he attends the UW-Madison. He thus connects Bucky Badger to himself, as well as marking the importance of the badger to his ancestors. The UW campus and the sweater Bucky is wearing are also very contemporary and are blended here with Garcia’s Tewa heritage. Garcia does an excellent job in combining the past with the present in this very unique and original piece that also reflects traditional Native American art.


Jason Garcia has always seen himself as an artist. Born to a long lineage of artists of the Santa Clara pueblo, Garcia find importance in creating art and expressing his own message. Jason Garcia, also known as Turtle Mountain (Okuu Pin), is a Tewa from Santa Clara, New Mexico. Garcia’s work is Native art that expresses Native life in the modern world through the popular form of graphic novels. Taking the traditional form of southwest pottery and creating graphic novel tiles is just the beginning of the ground breaking combination of traditional and contemporary that is the basis of Garcia’s work. Though Garcia has been in Madison, Wisconsin and travelling for the last couple of years, his work is tied to his home, the Santa Clara Pueblo. Most of Garcia’s work has been in clay, yet he is also known for his printmaking. The main message of Garcia’s art is the modern style of the Native scene while holding onto culture and tradition – not losing the message of the past while moving forward.
Representation of his home is central to his art and expression. The scenery of many of his pieces is the Santa Clara Pueblo or similar to the landscape of Garcia’s home. Having begun his potterymaking approximately twenty years ago, Garcia has mastered the traditional art of Santa Clara clay making and forming. He works exclusively with the clay from his home and traditionally fires the pieces outdoors. Garcia uses traditional means to create and prepare his clay for each piece he creates. He gathers materials from his home area and works only by hand, purposely leaving his fingerprints in each clay work he does. He is deeply involved and connected to his creations, thus creating his art the same way his family and Nation has for many years.
Garcia likes to use a mix of traditional and contemporary symbols within his work. This represents the mix between tradition and contemporary life in Native cultures. Garcia includes the traditional symbol of a rain cloud in the background because of how significant water and rain are to the survival and cultures of people in the Southwest United States.  Another of Garcia’s traditional symbols is featured in a series of work. The Corn Maiden (featured in the Edgewood Gallery) is a Hopi legend of springtime and harvest. However, while the Maiden wears her traditional ceremonial clothing, she is frequently acting in a nontraditional setting. The Corn Maiden often is portrayed on a cellular phone or in a very expensive sports car. She can be seen with friends or observing the Santa Clara landscape while thinking about fast food and contemporary icons. The contemporary symbol of the phone is particularly important, as Garcia explains, as it represents lost connection and communication. In nearly all the backgrounds of the Corn Maiden series, there are small hints as to modern impacts on the traditional, beautiful landscape, such as the satellite dish.
Garcia’s impeccable talent and enjoyable social commentary through his art work is a great contemporary form of expression for the Santa Clara Pueblo. Especially through his clay pottery and tiles, Garcia converts a traditional art medium into a new, modern twist for Native art. Garcia’s message through his clay is important and reflects life as he and other Native people experience it. His art represents more than a comic book series and it is important for viewers to learn and understand the symbolism of Garcia’s art – and that of other Native artists.


Ho-Chunk photographer Tom Jones uses a modern medium to capture photographs of mounds, petroglyphs, and “marker trees.”  He emphasizes the importance of these traditional art forms through his breathtaking photography. Unlike many past photographers of traditional Native art and nature, he is not taking the photographs to record a vanishing people, but rather to preserve and emphasize the importance of these natural art forms.
                  Mounds, petroglyphs, and marker trees are all Indigenous forms of visual expression. Instead of recreating one of these ancestral art forms, Jones uses modern photographs to draw attention to the already existing pieces found in nature. His photographs show the close relationship between Native art and nature, and the importance of nature in Native art forms like these. The marker tree photographs show the theme of survival woven into many forms on Native art. Trees like these were necessary for the survival of those who relied on them. They signaled sources of fresh water and other important locations.
                  Tom Jones now teaches Photography at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He photographs mounds, rocks, and trees around Wisconsin and the Midwest, along with other subjects. His photographs quite literally use a contemporary voice, through the medium of photography, in order to capture the ancestral vision of creating art within nature to serve a purpose for the Native peoples using them.


Jennifer Stevens is Oneida, and comes from Green Bay, Wisconsin. Not only does she study her own heritage, she also sings opera. Stevens’s work represents the revival of Iroquois-style pottery. She completed these works after learning of the revitalization of this art form by Rose Kerstetter, Peter B. Jones, and Elda Smith.
One particular pot by Jennifer Stevens that interests me is Turtle Island, from 2012. This pot has aspects of contemporary and Indigenous forms of expression. This pot is made of local clay and built by hand with coils, the same method used by Iroquois potters. She incorporated designs used by her ancestors by observing sherds and pots in archeological museums to build on the revitalization of these historical pots and her culture. A turtle was placed on the pot, along with engraved patterns on the rim, imagery similar to that seen on earlier Iroquois pottery. The turtle has a four-point image on its back, also similar to the motifs and designs of historical Iroquois pottery.
Stevens brings a contemporary voice to this piece as she thinks about the meaning of symbols that she places on her pots, though she is unaware of what the symbols mean. She uses symbols incorporated on earlier pottery, along with her own personality and style, as she engages the past to mimic the pots of her heritage.


An installation called Passages Transformed made in 2013 by John Hitchcock is the last piece in the Gallery. With these printed and folded paper boats, I believe the artist is trying to convey a sense of motion and unease. Assuming the shadows are intentional, the shapes floating on the wall are very unnerving.
                  When we studied pottery, the use of only two or three colors (but with great variety in thickness of line and shape) was pointed out as a distinguishing feature of the potters’ aesthetics. Hitchcock uses only black on white and silver on white to decorate the paper boats.
                  I enjoyed the contrast between the natural curves and spirals of the black design and the geometric rays and spheres of the silver design. This could be reflective of the contrast between European and Native American ways.
                  The use of paper is only possible in this modern age and only because of the time period can this piece be a distant reflection of past cultural trauma. For a descendant to reflect on the arrival of a people that trampled over his ancestors is a unique perspective.


                  Henry Payer is from Sioux City, Iowa. He is a member of the Winnebago tribe of Nebraska. Payer is a graduate student in Art at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and currently lives in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. Payer’s installation, Tee Joopeja mąąwowagax (Map of the Four Lakes), of 2013, is a mixed-media piece constructed of phone books and an old 1920s survey map of the DeJope, or Four Lakes.
                  Payer uses two very unique and simple materials for his installation. The map shows the four lakes, Lake Mendota, Lake Monona, Lake Waubesa, and Lake Kegonsa. The map also indicates Native American village sites, old pathways, cemeteries, and effigy mounds. Payer's installation is not like some of the other artwork in the gallery. His work does not scream Native American art work; rather he asks the viewer to look deeper into the piece. By using the map that he did, Payer is able to connect his piece to the Native Americans and to the place where the Winnebago lived before being relocated to Nebraska. His piece shows the places that Native Americans used to live, travel, and bury important people and meaningful objects. Payer shows us a visual representation of the actual places where these Native Americans used to live. He touches on the idea of place and how Native Americans inhabited the land that still exists today. He also invokes the importance of effigy mounds to Native Americans. These were important burial grounds and meeting places that were greatly cherished. The map he has chosen for this artwork allows the viewer to see the importance of the effigy mounds and how they are still important to the Native people today. Payer obviously thought about these different places that still exist and still have a lot of meaning in today's world.
                  The installation that Payer has created connects the old with the new. Payer uses an old map on a new item, the phone book. He has carved out the four lakes in different layers, exposing the content of the phone book. Viewers not only see the map on top, but are exposed to the content on the inside which brings a contemporary view to this piece. The map on top gives the viewer a look into the past while the phone book underneath shows the present use of the land. Payer wants the viewer to see that the land that they are walking on today had another purpose in the past. Back when this map was made, the locations of Native villages, pathways, and effigy mounds were still evident. Today we walk across the same land that Native Americans walked across, built on, and made sacred. Payer ties together the old and the contemporary meaning of what it means to use the earth. By doing this he creates a more contemporary concept that still ties into the past.


Jennifer Stevens is Oneida, one of the Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, and lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Stevens’s pottery pieces were amazing to see right in front of my eyes. Stevens met Rose Kerstetter, and began to teach herself how to make pottery. The smoothness of each piece made me realize how much time and patience goes into the making of each piece. Stevens’s pieces show the Native ways of pottery making. Her potterymaking technique includes the uses of paddles, used by earlier Iroquois potters. She does not always know the meaning of the symbols she uses, as this knowledge was lost before the recent revival of Iroquois potterymaking. Recreating these pieces offers her a connection with her ancestors.
Stevens’s pottery definitely reminded me of the pottery that we saw in class, in its delicateness and the meaning of each piece. Stevens makes beautiful and well thought out pieces that contain a story within them.


Jason Garcia, the artist who made the Corn Maiden #24 tile, is Tewa, from the Santa Clara Pueblo.  The tile, made of hand pressed clay with mineral pigments, is dated 2013, and its dimensions are 5 inches by 4.5 inches. The clay that Garcia used for this tile is mixed with volcanic ash that is found near the Pueblo.  The ash is culturally significant because it is sacred; by doing this there is always an element of the ancestral past in every piece of his work.
                  Art is in Garcia’s blood.  Both of his parents were artists, so it is only natural that he would go into the family business.  He takes pride in his work because it depicts the constantly shifting landscape of the Tewa people and Pueblo life.  That is what is shown in this tile.  The woman is obviously the Corn Maiden of the title, standing in the midst of the desert.  Behind her is some sort of structure that I am guessing is a farm.  At the top of the three turrets are white corn stalks, grown and in full bloom, ready for harvest.  Beneath that is a flower surrounded by some sort of plant I cannot identify but nevertheless it still signifies growth.  But plants need rain to grow, and in the desert rain can be scarce.  In the upper left corner is a tri-colored rain cloud with rain falling to indicate the plants are receiving rain.
                  As for the young woman herself, she looks as if she is wearing traditional clothes.  But the white object in her hand which she is holding up to her ear is a mobile phone that could symbolize a connection between the old farm life and new technology that signifies becoming a part of the modern world, kind of like a coexistence type of idea.


The work of art I looked at is called Passages Transformed, a folded-paper print installation made in 2013. John Hitchcock made the paper boats hanging at different levels in the art gallery.  This installation stood out to me because the boats were moving due to the ventilation in the room, and I was interested in the designs and the way the boats were made.  John Hitchcock, who is Comanche, grew up in Lawton, Oklahoma.  He is now living in Madison, Wisconsin, where he is a professor at UW-Madison.  
                  At first when I looked at thos work of art, I thought it was origami.  But then when I got closer it became evident that these are boats that were carefully made by hand.  The designs on them were interesting but I couldn’t really put my finger on what they exactly were.   The artist said that the boats represented traveling, going on a journey, and most importantly colonial ships.  He also said that he wanted them to hang from the ceiling to represent the boats “floating in the water”.  The way they hang in the air gives a sense of how the boats would sail through the water.
                  I liked the way Hitchcock said that the boats on the water represented traveling and adventure. This shows that Native Americans used boats in the past to travel and find food and shelter.


The art work that really caught my eye was Henry Payer’s Map of the Four Lakes, Tee Joopeja mqqwowagax.  Payer is Winnebago, and he grew up in Nebraska. This mixed-media artwork is a layout of the four Madison lakes and the city, made of Madison-area phone books.
What I liked most was how he used a map that shows effigy mounds to represent what they mean to him as a member of the Winnebago Tribe that was originally from this area.  The phone books in his work represent landmarks and the contemporary landscape, and show his feeling about the land and Madison. Cutting some of the phonebooks to show the depth of the lakes shows he really cares about his work as an artist.
Payer brings his contemporary voice to this work by using phone books to show the landscape’s geographic features and the history of the land as well, with the landmarks he included. He used a very different medium in this work and that’s what I liked most about it.  With this piece, Payer makes connections to his life and shows his connections to this landscape in a way that I find really unique.


Jason Garcia, or, Okuu Pin’from Turtle Mountain, of Santa Clara Pueblo is the son of Ronald and Susan Dubin who were both familiar with clay. Garcia, who has been working in clay for the past fifteen years, and primarily on tiles since 2001, comes from a long line of traditional and contemporary Pueblo potters. He uses traditional materials, including hand-dug clay and mineral pigments collected at Santa Clara Pueblo and other locations. Garcia collects and prepares these materials in order to create witty, intuitive, interesting, and most of all inspiring works of art.
In our Native American Art class, we often discussed the ways that different cultures would use different materials to help them better survive and live their lives. The people of Santa Clara Pueblo used the material of clay to help them better their way of life. They would create objects like bowls, pots, and jugs to store water, eat food, or cook meals. These objects were created using the clay found in the area. They were then decorated, most typically through a process called sgraffito and also by painting the surface of the ceramic vessels. The design, which was often a feathered serpent or a pattern of shapes and designs, was carved into or painted onto the pot and the pot was then fired.
Garcia uses a lot of the same traditions in collecting his materials and the same techniques in creating his pieces today. He still goes to the same areas today to collect his clay. He travels to the lands of the Pueblo to dig his own clay. He must then refine the clay to create a material that he can work with to make his works of art.
Garcia will create around six small tiles a day from a large slab. He will cut out the tiles, then scratch a picture into the tile. The outcome is an indented outline that forms a picture. He might then paint colored slips inside of the outline, coloring in the picture. He will often use minerals also found in the area of the village. He then pit-fires tiles, the same technique his traditional Santa Clara ancestors would use.
Some of the messages that one can interpret from Garcia’s work are the impacts that technology and changes in ways of life are having on the traditional people of Santa Clara. His work often includes a typical Pueblo person in traditional dress holding something like a cell phone or thinking of Pizza Hut. Garcia told our class that, recently, during a trip to the traditional ceremonies that take place annually in the Santa Clara village, some of the younger, more urbanized members were craving Starbucks and Red Bull because it was something they had become used to.
Quite a few of Garcia’s pieces a comic book feel. They display graphic, comic book style characters. Garcia says that he was largely influenced by the comic book era he grew up in, and he incorporates these images to tell a story. He uses an event, such as a war or specific battle from the history of the Santa Clara Pueblo tribe, to create an image of a hero defeating the terrible Europeans.
One of the most interesting pieces he showed our class a large, muscular, powerful Pueblo man wearing a cape and conquering three European soldiers and a monk. The characters on the tile have a very comic book feel to them, with the cape and the limited amount of colors. This tile is part of his group of work titled Tewa Tales of Suspense. For this series, Garcia creates a tile for each historic event that happened in the past to the Santa Clara people. Something that is very clever about this series is that Garcia pust the date and month the event happened in the corner of the tile. It is an accurate fact that is cleverly placed to make the tile look even more like a comic book.
Garcia recently moved to Wisconsin to pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree in Ceramics. He discussed his experiences here: the difference in the ways the clay can be worked with, how it must be dried before being fired, and the huge difference in the ways the pottery is fired. He stated that the biggest change he experienced with his work here was way the climate affects the process of working with his clay. He said the drying process is very particular, and if it isn’t done right it will result in cracks in the work. The other big change he experienced was the disconnect he felt when firing his work in an electric kiln.
At Santa Clara, pottery is fired in an outdoor pit fire. In Wisconsin, the firing process is to put one’s pieces in a kiln, push a button, and come back in twelve hours when the firing is finished. There is no way to see if something isn’t working or if there is going to be a disaster from an air bubble exploding when pottery is fired in a kiln. The traditional way Garcia is used to for firing his work gives him a huge sense of control. There is a constant watch and ear on the work; if anything starts to go awry, the work can be removed before any other pieces are hit with exploding pieces.
The clever and witty ways that Garcia uses traditional techniques and designs, yet puts his own spin and flare into these to create his own story, is very interesting. It is enjoyable to think about the way people’s typical, traditional ways of life are changing and altering. There is an easy sense of adaption, yet there is still a strong grip on the traditional ways of the past. Garcia is doing a wonderful job recording and expressing that to many important audience members.


Henry Payer’s installation, Map of the Four Lakes, is made from a map of Dane County in 1924 laid over today’s phone books. On the map Native sites are labeled: village sites, old pathways, cemeteries and effigy mounds. This is one way Payer is connecting to the past. Payer carved into the phone books the four lakes of the region: Lake Mendota, Lake Monona, Lake Waubesa, and Lake Kegonsa. He uses the phone books to represent the contemporary landscape and all the information they contain about the current occupants of this land. This carving represents the peeling away of layers of history to uncover what was there before.

While looking at Payer’s work one can see the layers of information he reveals. One really needs to look at the piece from various viewpoints or else some piece of information will be lost to the viewer. Just like Payer’s carving back the layers in his work, we are asked to think about how his ancestors used this land and how the landscape has evolved as settlers moved in. We need to ask ourselves about how the landscape has changed with these two cultures colliding. The map shows us where village pathways, cemeteries, and effigy mounds were located. This gives us clues to what was once here and allows us to ask ourselves about the landscape of the past being different from today’s modern city. We can see that this place was an important cultural meeting point and that the land had a different purpose compared to today. What stereotypes are we thinking about when we think of this land before and during the settlers?

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