Fixing the Earth: NOW! – Opens this week!

Fixing the Earth Postcard

So here’s the official image for the new exhibit that opens this week. I’m driving down for the opening this Thursday, I believe it is from 5pm – 7pm if I remember correctly? I’ll be there for two nights and then heading home on Saturday. Below is text from the Curatorial Statement (via Julian Lang):

Northwest California possesses a great diversity of biology and geography. Within this abundance evolved a unique indigenous cultural belief system which spread from ancient village to ancient village until it became the accepted spiritual practice of the whole region. A cycle of living myths told in 6 or more different languages defined cultural institutions, the meaning of objects and sacred places which together directly connects the people with the geography: the Karuk, Yurok, Hupa, Wiyot, Coastal Yurok, Tolowa, Redwood Creek, Ts’nungwe, and the Shasta. From the highest peaks to the deepest riverine canyons this great diversity has been defined by a unified cultural vision that is known today as Fixing the Earth.

Fixing the Earth: NOW! is both an imperative and a declaration–it’s an exhibition that asks Native artists to consider how this age-old indigenous spiritual practice inspires their art. The question is asked of both the professional artist and the new emerging artist. It is an experiment long past due and explores the premise that while art relates to an evolution of aesthetic ideals through history, the power of art is its ability to create shared visions and to make visible the invisible.

Local Native history reflects the violence and oppression that was spawned by the notions of imminent domain, western expansion, land bridges, and colonialism. Since contact Native peoples were forced to live apart in segregated communities. Locally tribal peoples were left to reclaim their pre-contact lives while luckily also continuing to live in their ancestral homelands. The land here is mountainous and rugged. The survivors rebuilt culturally, physically and spiritually as best tas was possible at ancient village sites located on the Smith, the Scott, the Klamath, the Salmon, the Trinity, the New and Eel rivers and the many creeks and streams, some of which flow as large as rivers in wintertime.

Today Fixing the Earth is the descriptive name for the annual and bi-annual local ceremonial practice during which the natural world is remade. It is ancient in origin and currently practiced by many. The primary purpose of the rituals and ceremonies is to remake, to repair, and reset the earth onto its prop (in the sense of a boat being moored to a post). A cycle of creation stories defines the act as the way to rid the world of sickness, to put the natural world into balance, to honor the ancestors, and to ritually remake the natural world according to original instructions handed down over the generations. The White Deerskin dance is a major World Renewal ceremony. The albino deer are present-day reminders of the spiritual world and our connections with that world. The woodpecker scarlet headdresses and baskets of the Jump Dance allow us to affirm our connection with the other side.

Fixing the Earth: NOW! is the beginning of a process to periodically challenge our local Native artists to look to our principal indigenous spiritual belief for inspiration. The curators wonder ‘what might artists come up with when challenged to create artwork that was motivated by the fix the earth philosophy? Can the Fixing the Earth sensibility be conveyed? Are there universal aspects that resonate with the local, non-Native audiences?’ Only time can tell.

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