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More on ‘Life Is Art’

March 11, 2011

I have recently returned from visiting friends who spend their winters in a town just outside of Phoenix Arizona.  I found this trip to be illuminating on many levels; historical, cultural, humanitarian, personal and artistic.

At first glance, the area surrounding Phoenix appears bursting with shopping centres, cars and people.  I found myself looking beyond those obvious realities, into a space filled with sky, the bluest sky I have ever seen (and I am from the prairies originally), rocks and plants that have learned to adapt to a very harsh environment.  I found myself thinking of what it would have required of me to have been one of the first peoples to inhabit this desert land.  I found myself feeling admiration for those that had gone before.

Fortune shone upon me! While in Phoenix, I was able to see one of the most comprehensive collections of First Nations artifacts, housed at the Heard Museum, in downtown Phoenix.  The mandate of the museum and collection is to educate the voyeurs/public in the life and culture of the First Nations peoples that have inhabited this area for over 10,000 years.

It just so happens that smack dab in the middle of my science degree, I was able to take two classes on Native American Indian Art from one of North America’s experts on that subject, Dr. John Anson Warner.  It has been many moons since I have been so grateful for such an happenstance. Those two classes helped me put into perspective the cultural significance of what I was experiencing.

The collection is housed in a beautiful building that resembles a Spanish Villa.  It is displayed and scripted in such a way that the viewer becomes entwined in the creative elements of these first peoples’ lives.  There are historical references of course but included within the collection are modern experiences as well.

Explanation of Modern Sculpture -Representational Sculpture – Heard Museum, Phoenix, AZHeard Museum

The images I have included in this post are a modern representation of an ancient practise.  This sculpture is out of this world.  The breath taking use of clay and glass spans an entire wall.  It truly must be seen to be believed….a mystical experience.

The Historical collection is diverse and complete.  I found myself in a state of wonder, viewing these functional artifacts that held so much beauty.  The Human race doesn’t appear to be able to help themselves when it comes to throwing aesthetics into the mix.  Creativity and beauty are truly a part of who we are.

There is one section of the museum that nearly brought me to tears….the account of the “Indian Schools”.  Shame on those that did such things….let it be a reminder to us all to celebrate the differences amongst us.

If you are ever in Phoenix make sure that you visit the Heard!!

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