Water flows in rivers and streams, in arteries and veins. It flows around us and through us. From raindrops to vast oceans, from the largest tree to the smallest pollinator, we are all part of its currents. The water moves through rivers, ancient beings that guard the stories of the living organisms that inhabit their banks and water. In the exhibition Water and Origin: Protecting and Honoring the First Storyteller, artists from across Turtle Island/North America explore these vital narratives. Through photography, painting, quilting, and ceramics, artists share the cultural memories of their communities and the importance of protecting these waterways.
The exhibition is curated by the artist couple Veronica Blake Lavia and Tzintzun Aguilar-Izzo. Through contemporary dance and photography, they delve into the environmental history of the St. Lawrence River watershed on traditional Haudenosaunee territory and at the Antigua watershed of Veracruz, Mexico. Other artists included in the exhibition are Mohawk quilter Iakonikonriiosta, Mohawk ceramicist Natasha Smoke Santiago, and Mazatec painter René Alvarado.
Panel Discussion: River, Water, and Life
Water is at the heart of the current climate emergency. Around the world, this life-giving resource is a point of celebration, exploitation, and conflict. The St. Lawrence River watershed on Haudenosaunee territory, is no exception. In River, Water and Life panel discussions, artists from the exhibition join with other community members to discuss the past, present, and future of the region’s rivers. The conversation will take the form a circular discussion, in which the audience and panelists delve into their relationship with rivers, the threats these waters face, and the importance of safeguarding them. The event will be presented on Wednesday, September 9, 2020, at 6:00 p.m. in the Richard F. Brush Art Gallery. The art on display will serve as a backdrop for the conversation and is intended to spark critical discussions. River, Water and Life is the first event of The North Country Art, Land, and the Environment Summit, setting the tone for many constructive exchanges to come.
Veronica Blake Lavia (BFA in Visual Art, SUNY Potsdam ’15) and Tzintzun Aguilar-Izzo (Multifield BA, St. Lawrence University ’15) are founding members of the Talking Wings Collective, a group of environmental artists and filmmakers who are working on Burning or Breathing: Guardians of Earth and Water. The documentary and multimedia project follows earth guardians from across Turtle Island/North America as they create a sustainable and restorative future. The collective’s work has been previously exhibited in the MassArt Godine Family Gallery, the K&P Gallery New York, Goddard College, the Dorchester Art Project, and the Centro per l'Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci.