Santa Clara Pueblo artist Eliza Naranjo Morse recently updated a piece of her work that has been on display at the Institute of American Indian Arts Museum of Contemporary Native Arts for nearly a year. The 38-foot long mural, called “And We Will Live Off the Fat of the Land” is highlighted in the exhibition “Forward,” in which she uses drawings, clay, organic and recycled materials, as well as caricatures to create a connection between her Pueblo roots and her contemporary art practice.
The mural shows a procession of beetles wearing beautifully detailed Native attire, and shows one beetle pushing a full shopping cart.
“Perhaps we yearn to make our lives good and find balance, because even when we feel completely challenged there is the unrelenting proof in each of us that we are survivors, that we are the result of our ancestors’ histories and that eventually we will become ancestors,” Naranjo Morse said in a press release.
She recently took a brush to the mural to add her reflections on recent events at Standing Rock. When asked why, she said: “I added the signs from the water protectors at Standing Rock to share the good work happening there with as many people as possible. Their work carefully clears a path for all of us seeking a way out of feeling incapacitated. It is no small trail. It is an expansive and beautiful clearing that leads our individual strength back to our shared center and guides us collectively forward with intention.”
Patsy Phillips, (Cherokee Nation) director of the museum, said that all of Naranjo Morse’s work has resonated with visitors, but especially the mural. “At first glance, it is playful, colorful, and child-like; but after close examination, one sees the seriousness of the content. Initially when we commissioned Eliza to create this new work, the mural was scheduled to stay up for six months; however, visitors loved it so much we decided to keep it up for a full year,” Phillips explained. “This extended period gave Eliza a chance to update this piece to reflect what is currently happening in the United States landscape. Standing Rock is an in-progress issue that is not just distressing the Sioux Nation, but is a concern that affects all peoples. Eliza’s work shows us that art, like water, sustains the body and spirit.”
Videos of the revisions in progress can be seen on the MoCNA Facebook page. Be sure to stop by the museum and see the mural in person before it comes down at the end of December.