"Enate" “In the beginning . . .” implies both what I seek (the genesis of indigenous culture in the Americas) and what I reject (a patriarchal foundation).
Enate is an exposition of the numbers of Native American women who are sexually assaulted each year, presented as material volume - 6956 silk taffeta female figures. The silhouettes, dyed with cochineal, are motifs from the earliest (4,000 - 3,500 BCE) images of females in the Americas. 6956 is the average reported number of Native American women sexually assaulted each year. These figures are layered in threes. Native women are three times more likely to be assaulted than other women in the United States and the majority of the assaults are by non-Native men. Each trio forms a cluster, resembling feathers, and is attached to the cloak, metaphorically unifying the women into a solid mantle of protection and empowerment.
"Retracing the Trace"
"Retracing the Trace" Silence shrouds the experience of sexual assault. A woman is often strangled to silence and control her and the aftermath is characterized by a different kind of enveloping disquiet. Rape is about power and rage. A woman is made powerless and she is silenced.
In previous installations I addressed the issue of violence against women in an abstract and personally detached way. "Retracing the Trace" marks a shift in my approach to this subject. Each aspect of this work reflects my identity and involvement, from making the body imprint to removing the last cord from the floor and attaching it to the wall. The gallery is a metaphor for my body, as I draw attention to the number of sexual assaults that go unreported, and renounce the traces of my own trauma.
The incidence of violence against Native American women is almost three times greater than the national average and 90 percent of the sexual assaults are by non-Native men. Historical precedents of conquest and colonialism continue to play out.
As a Native American woman I often reference Pre-Contact culture in my work. The khipu was pertinent to this work, as a device made of cords, and as an endangered indigenous language. I metaphorically connected the silencing I experienced when I was raped to the silencing of Native American culture and voices.
"...the body and blood"
" . . . the body and blood" is informed by "Ruined", a Pulitzer Prize winning play by Lynn Nottage, which addresses atrocities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Violence against women is a global issue; ubiquitous and without boundaries. Most rapes go unreported - only 16% are ever reported to the police. In the United States a reported attack happens every two minutes, 720 times a day. This installation presented an image of those numbers. Each day, for 34 days, 720 dried rose petals were added to a honeysuckle basket in the center of the gallery. Between October 12 and November 14, 2009, a total of 24,480 petals spilled over that basket, as sanctus bells rang every two minutes.
"The Pilgrimage Ribbon"
"The Pilgrimage Ribbon" explores journeys and the loss of Native American Culture. Accordion books reference Codex Boturini, which told the story of the Aztec’s journey to find a home. These two codices (each eleven feet long) represent my own journey during an eleven year period, and the journey we all have in common, as we make our way through life, its foibles, our foibles - vulnerability expressed by the negative space in which the figures and shapes exist. Our paths dip and wind through encounters, exploration, danger, disappointment; eventually straying into uncharted areas of ourselves -
"Transparent to Transcendance"
“Transparent to Transcendence” is about transformation and the way in which Native American people relate to the world around them. Most tribes have retained stories that explain celestial constellations and many of these stories involve children being drawn up into the sky. I especially like the Kiowa story in "The Ancient Child", by Scott Momaday, in which seven sisters become the stars of the Big Dipper. A similar Cherokee story tells of children ascending into the sky to become The Pleiades. Both stories suggest their subjects moving effortlessly and unafraid through the transformation process.