Artist Jacob A. Meders creates an immersive installation at SMoCA

The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art has transformed the SMoCA Lounge into a gallery with the exhibition “And It’s Built on the Sacred”, on display until October 17th.

An indoor installation by local artist Jacob A. Meders (Mechoopda / Maidu), according to a press release, Meders used found objects and painted traditional marks of indigenous peoples on them to reconsider “how meaning can be layered and recovered in these products. “

By superimposing images and meaning on found objects, it raises questions about what is considered holy or sacred and how easily the sacred can be sacrificed, which dates back to the history of Western European civilizations taking the sacred sites of indigenous peoples and building their own religious structures on them.

Temples, missions and churches were built on sacred sites during the expansion of Western colonialism, which forced indigenous peoples to leave the land of their ancestors, the statement said.

In 1978, however, the press release noted that the American Indian Religious Freedom Act had been passed to remove the prohibition on indigenous peoples of the United States from practicing their religion or traditional cultural practices. This suppression and the trauma it caused had a lasting effect on Indigenous peoples, many of whom used the Christian religion to mask or hide their traditional ways of believing.

“Building, replacing and destroying what is sacred has been the gentrification of indigenous lands,” Meders said in a prepared statement. “To know what is sacred and to understand what is sacred would be to respect and honor what is sacred. Clearing the land with appropriation and commodification are the handcrafted tools of cultural rejection and destruction. “

“And It’s Built on the Sacred,” a multimedia installation, is a reflection on what is described as sacred and holy and prompts a dialogue about the novelties and the manipulation of unwanted Euro-American religious objects, according to the statement.

“SMoCA recognizes that the land we stand on is the unceded sacred land of Indigenous peoples and we honor those connected to this land,” said Julie Ganas, Curator of Digital Engagement and Initiatives and Curator of the exhibition, in a prepared statement. .

“Working with Jacob on this exhibition breathed new energy into the Museum and transformed the gallery into a space for reflection. It was a great pleasure for us to work closely with Jacob to bring this meaningful and profound exhibition to life to share with the community.

At the center of the installation is a circular floor created from earth that Meders carved by hand. Hidden underground is a triangular pattern created using willow – the primary material used for basket weaving by residents of Mechoopda in Chico, Calif., Where Meders is from, the statement noted.

The earthen floor brings the sacred earth into the gallery and represents a space for healing, gathering and reflection. Hanging around the dirt floor are Mexican blankets that Meders uses as a canvas to paint traditional indigenous motifs important to the Mechoopda people.

In all the components posed throughout the exhibition, Meders wants visitors to reflect on important questions around the sacred and the saint; recognize the problematic story behind the objects; combine all the components of the installation to “re-indigenize” or reclaim the gallery as a sacred space – layering old and new stories together, the release detailed.

A master engraver, Meders has also created an edition of signed and numbered prints that the public can take home to continue ruminating on the exhibition and the questions asked.

“While we continue to adapt to the changing environment, we remain committed to working with the community of extremely talented artists based in Arizona,” said Jennifer McCabe, director and chief curator of SMoCA, in a prepared statement.

“We turned our temporarily under-utilized multipurpose space into a gallery and in doing so, we cultivate connections in new and deep ways. Currently, SMoCA is showcasing the work of four Arizona-based artists, alongside two nationally and internationally renowned artists.

“And It’s Built on the Sacred” is curated by the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and curated by Julie Ganas, Curator of Digital Engagement and Initiatives. Through its partnership with the City of Scottsdale, the non-profit organization Scottsdale Arts (formerly known as the Scottsdale Cultural Council) creates diverse and inspired artistic experiences and educational opportunities for community engagement with the arts, adds the press release.

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