New Immersive “Artopia” Display in Phoenix Features GRIC Artists
April 1, 2022
Gila River Indian News
Community artists have their work on display in a newly opened downtown Phoenix immersive art display. Artopia, which opened in late March in the Valley after a successful run in Chicago, features work by GRIC members Zachary Justin, Tiffany Enos and several other Indigenous artists.
Artopia is an artist collective that draws from surrounding communities and includes sound mapping and interactive lighting to create an immersive environment for gallery visitors. The exhibit opened to the public March 24 in collaboration with Cahokia Socialtech+Artspace, an Indigenous-led space also located downtown.
“We wanted to have a creative aspect on what land and water means to Indigenous people,” said Eunique Yazzie, co-founder of Cahokia. Yazzie said Artopia reached out to Cahokia to include a section of Indigenous artists from around the Valley to contribute to a portion of the overall art experience.
Yazzie said the artists each sketched out their own vision, with the various works unified by themes like water, light and darkness. Other themes include the Indigenous will to resist outside influences, the beautify of the desert, and the importance of agriculture in Indigenous communities.
Zachary Justin of District 6 and Tiffany Enos of District 4, both frequent collaborators with Cahokia, were invited to create pieces for Artopia. Jesse Yazzie, Jeanette Rocha and Richelle Key were also invited to contribute work.
“If we could have a room, we could divide it up between six Indigenous artists and really bring representation to what it means to be a creative person living on the ancestral lands of the people that came before,” said Yazzie, who added that the artists were selected based on their reputation and willingness to contribute to such a special project. “We have such talent among our Indigenous people and they were for it.”
Justin said his mural, “Untitled,” which utilizes a black light, took him a day and a half to complete. It features traditional Huhugam symbols, figures, clouds and a water symbol with a centerpiece focusing on a quail and desert landscape.
To acknowledge the historical ties the Akimel O’otham have to the land, Justin said, “I added different pottery designs, such as the burden basket carrier, quail and a water pottery design.”
Enos’ piece features a desert landscape with water flowing through it, which ties into what Yazzie created with water going around the room. Despite some last-minute changes and fast turnaround times, Enos said the work turned out the way she had envisioned.
“This was my second time working with spray paint, but the desert theme part was done more with acrylic paint,” said Enos. “It has definitely opened my eyes to a new experience, materials to use, so it was an experience working in that way,”
For anyone interested in visiting Artopia , tickets can be purchased online at artopiaexperience.com. The gallery, located at 313 W. Apache Street in Phoenix, is open Thursday and Friday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. and weekends from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tours typically take 45 to 60 minutes, with time slots available every half hour. Tickets start at $29 for adults. And at this time, there is no set ending date for Artopia.