Thursday, April 18, 2013

Navajo "Chiefs" in D.C. :D

Meeting with Navajo Nation Washington Office
The grammar police are gonna love this post :) Yadila! First there was the "Indian" Police, now there's the grammar police to watch out for too. Guess it wasn't enough to be a good Indian. Evidently I'm very good at getting myself to D.C. (hmm... yeah that's probably not a good thing). Somehow I managed to get myself recommended  to attend a conference on sustainability in Washington D.C. I was told there was gonna be free food and maybe even an opportunity for some sightseeing. FYI: I agreed to go way before all the freebies.  
       The conference wasn't that bad, it was highly organized and the free food (hummus wrap) was quite delicious. The first day reminded me of my first semester in college, full of idealism up to here (makes hand motion). The second day reminded me of my first year after graduating from college: it was stuck somewhere between theory and practice. The people were actually starting to burn out by the end of the second day; the look on their faces told a story of coming to the realization that sustainability and creating jobs didn't go together. I didn't feel sorry for anyone.    
      Wouldn't it have been better for the colonizers to first appropriate all of our good ideas on kinship and sustainability before they stole our land and fucked it up? Then "we" wouldn't be in this mess or at this conference in D.C. on kumbaya and money. I couldn't help but ask myself these questions as I listened to environmentalists and capitalists go on and on about sustainability and jobs. The settler-colonists still have a lot to learn about kinship, maybe it's still our (Indigenous) responsibility to teach them how to be good human beings.Yup, that's where Squanto messed up, learning to be good relatives should have been a precondition for food. This way there wouldn't have been a need for treaties, wars, reservations and boarding schools. I'm just kidding, sort of. 
      Back to 2013, nowadays we practice our stoic looks before going into meetings on the social, political and economic conditions in "Indian Country." The meetings usually go very well, we shake hands and agree that the social, political and economic conditions in "Indian Country" are horrid. They swear that they aren't allowed to help Indians and that they would if they could, then they swear they didn't know they could help and will now do more to be better advocates. Lastly, they start asking rhetorical questions on what we could do if we were in their positions or what needs to happen. The kind of superficial questions that they already have really smart asshole answers for, and all this before they walk us out the door and hand us their business cards.     
      All Cynicism aside, the conference actually went very well, mostly because of the awesome Dine' peeps I ran into. On the last day we decided to salvage our expensive trip to D.C. by forming a temporary war party and lobbying on behalf of our people back home in Dine Bikeyah. We managed to meet with the Senate subcommittee on Indian Affairs, Senator Flake, and the Navajo Nation Washington Office. We had a good discussion with the Navajo office on representation of different community interests, and the need for more critical thinking in current Dine' "governance."

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Peace, Water and Solidarity Mural

Mural Size: 95' x 5'8"    Medium: Spray paint & house paint    Location: Phoenix, AZ  More Photos of Water Mural Project
      People have been painting in the Americas for a very long time, for many Indigenous nations, painting was a way to get closer to the sacred. To Indigenous peoples, symbols had the power to heal, grow or destroy. The act of painting on a wall wasn’t always for making “art”, it could be used to transmit a message or communicate information, and sometimes it was used in combination with the oral traditions to pass on knowledge from one generation to the next. The colonization of the Americas censored and appropriated Indigenous knowledge, libraries were burned and sacred paintings destroyed. All the artists on this community mural project are descendants of Indigenous nations from Latin America and North America. We’re not just painting on a wall, but we are passing on the oral traditions of the community we are painting in. Our process is very much based on the oral traditions, before banned books there were banned walls.  
       Water is life; it's something that we can't ignore because we live in a desert. Water is the common denominator; it connects us (portraits) all together. 

Edgar Fernandez working on vines around Tonantzin Portrait 
       Oral traditions were passed on from one generation to the next by word of mouth, and important memories were kept alive and passed on. Stories about sacred sites, events, and people formed the Indigenous paradigm, since 1492 there has been a paradigm shift toward a destructive paradigm. The destruction of Indigenous libraries and wall paintings was part of this shift away from an indigenous way of life, one of coexistence and respect for the natural environment, one where earth is our mother [the portrait of the figure of Tonantzin, an   earth/mother goddess, reflects a recognition of this indigenous perspective]. 
      Edgar and I went to the neighborhood at 16th avenue and Taylor a before the starting the mural to talk to people for a few hours, we wanted to know where people were coming from and get the community’s perspective. We decided that we would paint portraits of people that represent peace, people from different cultures that reflected the neighborhood’s diversity of cultures. We also left some room for more community input.


       The mural wasn’t funded by any organizations. The project was mostly accomplished through using house paint donated by good friends. I found gallons of white paint by the dumpster one time when we had run out of white paint, and on top of that I spent $200 of my own money on house paint and spray paint. Ace Hardware came through towards the end of the mural by donating quarts of house paint. 

      Part of the negotiation to paint on the wall included painting a peace sign, it was fairly easy including it into the concepts we were working with. We were also mindful of the demographic of the neighborhood at 16th avenue and Taylor, and this is why we painted portraits of people that represented peace from different backgrounds. Gandhi, Mohammad Ali, Mother Theresa and Cesar Chavez to us represent different manifestations of the same idea. We left some wall unpainted in case people from the community wanted other portraits to be included.

       We thought the portraits were a good representation of people who sought peace and justice, who were affected by colonization and the paradigm shift it brought with it, and who were agents of social awareness and changes. Geographically specific to us, and many other places on earth right now, the water border around the mural added a common denominator because everyone needs water to survive, especially in Phoenix, AZ. Like the portraits, water is also representative of disruptions in peace and justice, and the effects of colonization.

List of Artists                                                      Assistants
Julius Badoni (ASU)                                            Israel Bobadilla
Edgar Fernandez (Phoenix College)                   Melissa Gracia
Ky Thornton (Phoenix College)                           Juan Vera
Keisr Munoz
Ramon Aguirre (Phoenix College)

Bring something good to the community. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Phoenix Indian Center's Silver and Turquoise Ball Auction

        Recently donated one of my oil paintings to a good cause (Phoenix Indian Center), the 16" x 16" piece
is actually one that I'm actually pretty proud of. I used the Old Masters glazing technique, basically had to 
paint the whole piece using Burnt Umber and White paint, then glazed the oil paint on top. This process adds depth to the process, but it takes longer. Sometimes you throw paint at the canvas with a brush or palette knife, other times you delicately add different colors using various detail brushes. 
       The title of this piece is Revitalize, as you can see the person is wearing blue jeans and putting on moccasins.The blue Jeans here represent main stream society, and the moccasins represents Indigenous way of life. Yes its cheesy but we do walk, or blend two worlds today, just like our ancestors did. Well my ancestors actually blended many ways of life together, whereas today people are only given one perspective. My ancestors were critical thinkers, eclectics, and always had an Interdisciplinary approach. They inspire me everyday to take my "art" to the next level. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Title: Greeting the Sun
Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 11x14
Year: 2010

Relief printmaking

Title: Against Illegal Immigration Since 1492
Medium: Lino cut
Year: 2010

People really like this one, I've sold 17 out of 30. :)

Historical Painting

Title: Before and After Colonization
Year: 2010
Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 15"x30"

People really like these before and after portraits of Tom Torlino.
I used my little sister's Chief Blanket Design in the background.

Lino cuts

Testing 1 2 3
HEllo? :)