RECENT WORK- Completion of the “Indigenous Iconic Earth Altar”

The Indigenous Iconic Earth Altar is inspired by both Plains Indian astronomy, and hide garments. It is a five piece “walk-around” fiber installation; an octagonal medicine wheel encircled by four free-hanging “Power Dresses.” It pays homage to the synthesis thinking of indigenous people across the Americas, a holistic non-hierarchal approach for understanding the universe and the human relationship to all life forms, levels, cycles, seasons and elements within it and beyond.

This concept is also reflected in the technical/material choices of the piece. Exploring both old and new technologies, the project has also been an experiment in media integration through the recycling and “sampling” of a wide range of materials and processes. By piecing together this “we are all related” belief system, I am opening a doorway, for myself and others, to the understanding of the essential teachings of all Indigenous American belief. 

 

The Indigenous Iconic Earth Altar is inspired by both Plains Indian astronomy and hide garments. Like many fiber art installations, you can walk through it or around it. The installation (3 years in the making) consists of an octagonal medicine wheel encircled by four free-hanging “Power Dresses.” Traditionally, this type of clothing is said to carry the spiritual, mental, physical, and emotional power of the wearer. 

The Earth Altar overall pays homage to the synthesis thinking of indigenous people across the Americas, a holistic non-hierarchal approach for understanding the universe and the human relationship to all life forms, levels, cycles, seasons and elements within it and beyond. This concept is also reflected in the technical/material choices of the piece. Exploring both old and new technologies, the hybrid project has also been an experiment in media integration through the recycling and “sampling” of a wide range of materials and processes. By piecing together this “we are all related” belief system, I am opening a doorway, for myself and others, to the understanding of the essential teachings of all Indigenous American belief.

IF YOU, OR YOUR INSTITUTION/VENUE, ARE INTERESTED IN HOSTING OR PURCHASING THIS INSTALLATION, please contact Alyssa by clicking the contact link!

Gallery 1- NC State University, 2012:

 

Indigenous Iconic Earth Altar

The Indigenous Iconic Earth Altar is inspired by American Indian astronomy and traditional hide garments. Symbolizing the revival of Native culture, this circular project contains overarching themes relating to the unity and interdependence between humans and the universe. The central medicine wheel, an American Indian cultural canon, mirrors the cosmos and represents the balance of four basic dimensions: the physical, emotional, spiritual and mental. When integrated, these can produce personal success and wellness.

Other basic divisions correspond to the four cardinal directions, the four seasons, the four times of day, the four elements and so on. The total altar embodies, in its design, dualism and reciprocity where complementaries in all realms are not opposing but integrated; such as male-female, past-future and intuitive-analytical. The very center shows this duality, where yellow meets black and red meets white. Four colors are normally used to represent all these various aspects of the sacred circle: yellow, red, black and white (assigned colors do differ across Native cultures).

Traditional hide garments are said to carry the physical, emotional, spiritual and mental power of the wearer. In the context of this five-piece “walk-around” fiber installation, these “Power Dresses” are wearable medicine wheels. As you can see, the colors used within each of the directional quadrants also contain “elemental abstractions,” patterns relating to each corresponding dress.

The altar as a whole carries the power of a life philosophy. It pays homage to the synthesis thinking of indigenous people across the Americas, a holistic non-hierarchal approach for understanding the universe and the human relationship to all life forms within it and beyond. By piecing together this inter-related belief system, the artist sends a message of renewed honor and respect for our life-supporting earth, a concept intrinsic to traditional American Indian cultural values.

By integrating four-dimensional geometry into the central wheel, the artist suggests a parallel correlation between modern space-time physics and this “infinite synthesis” philosophy where everything is unified.

The multi-faceted, multi-layered nature of this project has served as both a learning and teaching tool. It has allowed the artist to reclaim and reveal the nature of duality in balance and the significance of the life force, seasonal cycles, elements, land connection and ecology for all American Indian spiritual traditions regardless of political boundaries.

To this end, each dress carries a totem-like iconic symbol that is common to indigenous creation stories and ceremonial practices across North, Central and South America. These ancient icons are metaphors for the evolution and transformation of human consciousness (death and rebirth) and are reinterpreted in a contemporary, high-tech mode, combining traditional materials with new technology and connecting the world of the artist’s ancestors with contemporary society.

Within each of the directional quadrants of the wheel are elemental abstractions relating to each corresponding dress. For my purposes, this mixed media ensemble carries the power of, not an individual, but a life philosophy. It pays homage to the synthesis thinking of indigenous people across the Americas, a holistic non-hierarchal approach for understanding the universe and the human relationship to all life forms within it and beyond. By piecing together this “we are all related” belief system, I am sending a message of renewed honor and respect for our life-support system, the earth, a concept intrinsic to traditional Native American cultural values and relevant to people of all walks of life.

In indigenous art, past and present, the “aliveness” of an object is of primary aesthetic concern. But the manner in which these objects tends to be represented in modern archaeological journals and museum cases is dead, with no particular meaning, reference or connection to the living. This project, as a living, growing artifact, has been wholly subject to the processes of change and adaptation as a necessary component of it’s function, literally mirroring the essential teachings of the medicine wheel paradigm through time (and exhaustion). Exploring both old and new technologies, the project has also been an experiment in media integration through the recycling and “sampling” of a wide range of materials and processes.

“All my relations” is an affirmation meaning I am one with everything, everybody, the entire universe and the “Great Mysterious” or “First Cause.” By integrating fourth dimensional geometry into my project I am suggesting a link between modern space-time physics and this “infinite sythesis” philosophy where everything is unified.

The multi-faceted, multi-layered nature of this project has served as both a learning and a teaching tool. It has allowed me to reclaim and reveal, to myself and others, the nature of duality in balance and the significance of the life force, seasonal cycles, elements, land connection and the ecology, for all Native American spiritual traditions, regardless of political boundaries. To this end, each dress contains an iconic symbol that is common to indigenous creation stories and ceremonial practices across North, Central and South America. These ancient icons are metaphors for the evolution and transformation of human consciousness (death and rebirth) and are reinterpreted  in a contemporary, even high-tech mode, combining traditional materials with new technology and connecting my ancestors’ world with contemporary society. 

IF YOU, OR YOUR INSTITUTION/VENUE, ARE INTERESTED IN HOSTING OR PURCHASING THIS INSTALLATION, please contact Alyssa by clicking the contact link!

 

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