“Restoring the Balance” Exhibits GRIC Artists’ Work
October 21, 2022
A collective of eight women artists, including two from the Gila River Indian Community, worked together to create an exhibition at GateWay Community College in Phoenix titled “Restoring the Balance: Rematriating Indigenous Lands.” The opening reception Oct. 7 featured music, spoken word poetry and dance performances.
Tiffany Enos from District 4 and Melissa Yazzie from District 5 contributed to the exhibit. Local Matriarch, an Indigenous women-led platform for storytelling and community building, curated the show and selected all the contributing artists.
“These pieces gave me an opportunity to get more in touch with my culture and explore my personal past,” Enos said. “Working with other female artists was very empowering because we got to meet every weekend and share our experiences as artists and mothers.”
This was Enos’ first art exhibition. The collective nature inspired the pieces she saw when working with the other artists who were often juggling multiple responsibilities of work, family and art.
Yazzie contributed four works that depict the changing seasons of the year with motifs that connect to her home in District 5.
“It’s been an honor to be a part of this gallery with other female artists,” said Yazzie. “My art shows the various changes we [women] often go through, so it was great to show by incorporating the leaves and feathers that I often find on my walks at home.”
The Restoring the Balance exhibit ran in conjunction with a secondary show at Cahokia Socialtech + Artspace in downtown Phoenix during the Indigenous Peoples’ Day Phoenix Fest Oct. 10.
Claudia López, a co-founder of Local Matriarch, said, “Our mission is to empower Indigenous women, so we gathered our relatives that we collaborate with from Cahokia and recognize the need for space so emerging artists can grow, so we decided to create that space here.”
Local Matriarch hosted the artists three months before the opening to plan and create the works on display. Throughout that time, the group bonded in unforeseen ways, celebrating birthdays and sympathizing with losses while supporting one another.
“I’m overcome with emotions tonight after what we’ve been building with these artists,” said Local Matriarch co-founder Tashena López, Navajo Nation. “You can feel it in the room, and we couldn’t be happier with the work that everyone did; it’s been a wonderful experience.”
A Local Matriarch press release states that the exhibition pieces “explore the ways in which Indigenous peoples are nurturing the sacred and reciprocal relationships between peoples and land.” The gallery brought the artists together to create one-of-a-kind pieces that speak to the themes of rematriation, indigeneity, migrations and the importance of land.
Other contributing artists include Richelle Key, Gloria Martinez-Granados, Cora Quiroz, Selina Scott, J Stanley, and Laurie Steelink.
The exhibit will remain on view at GateWay Community College until the end of January 2023 inside the Center for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.