“A View From Within Under The Skin” and 7 Photographs
21c Museum Hotels Oklahoma City 900 W Main St, Oklahoma City, OK 73106
August 2017 – March 2018
The way we see others and how one is seen has been a subject that I have had in my life since I was small. I am both Native American and Caucasian, but growing up I felt more times than I care to count that I was not enough of one or the other and that pull made me question all parts of myself. If I did not look like _____ could I be ______? Where did I fit if I was not a part of this or that group? I have had conversations with many that are from other races and that too was a struggle as well. Is my skin too dark or not dark enough, the texture of my hair or the accent that I speak with. All of this history, this past came to a head one day while getting my children ready for school we were pulling together pencils, folders, colored pencils, and crayons. They had to have 4 sets of 24 crayons each and we had leftovers from sets of the past years, some colors had never been used, and we were combining them together so we’d know how many new boxes would be required. The kids were talking about their friends at the new school and friends of their past school. In the conversation, they were describing the children “the girl with the yellow hair, the boy with the brown skin”, in a very casual descriptive manner with no malice to the differences. This made me think more about how we see people and how one is judged. The smell of the crayons, the vivid colors, and the thoughts of my youth brought me to this crayon project. How we change in our viewpoints of people, and how we judge people based on race and color. We are all one below that surface, that surface of skin, no matter the color, the shape, or the origin.
There are 12 girls and each girl is made in all the 24 colors in a Crayola Crayon box making a total 288 girls. I think if we could see ourselves as all the colors in the crayon box in all the shades we would be kinder we would be able to feel if just for a moment another’s life and our world could change in such a way that kids don’t worry about if they are too light or too dark or if their hair is the right texture to belong.
When I was young we lived on a mountain in Cherokee, NC, my father taught at the Indian School for several years. My memories have no words from that time just images, some of running the woods, others of going up and down the winding stairs to go to school. The “Gathering” is my interpretation of that part of my life; my coming home to the place and to the people I am a part of.
The wood is from a Locust tree. It is cut lengthwise; it exposes the rough center of the tree and the lines, the lines of the tree show its history. This wood is cut on the angle to be the mountain I lived upon, and the mountain we all climb during life.
When “Gathering” is hung the light cast’s shadows of the figures on the wall, these shadows represent for me memories. Memories cannot be held they have no words, and in the end, we are all only a shadow in history, shadows on this earth.
I used my Cigar Figures to represent my family in “Gathering”. These figures come from a Native American story of my childhood that my mother told of the “Stick People”. The “Stick People” would run through the night and call your name, she never described the figures and I was drawn to the idea of what they looked like for most of my life. The Cigar Figures are my reimagining of that story, now a story of family and my past. The figures are made of real cigars and found sticks. I create molds of the cigars and then cast them and the sticks in bronze. The faces are of the people from my past and my present.