October 17, 2017 @ 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Coconino Center for the Arts

Mask maker and performance artist Pash Galbavy (Sedona) uses masks and movement to share her personal and archetypal experience of participating in Hope and Trauma in a Poisoned Land. Masks of Privilege, Fear, Compassion and more play parts in this story of awakening to the haunting reality that exists right outside of Flagstaff, and which affects the health of everyone, including most directly those living on the Navajo Reservation.

Doors open at 6:00pm to view the exhibition. Talk begins at 6:30pm. This event is free and open to the public.

Artist Statement: My artistic passion and goal is to express common human experience in a viscerally impactful way using masks and movement. The body is a wonderful tool because expressing with it tends to bypass logical thinking and go directly to viewers’ core. I love working with masks because they are iconic. They rise beyond the personal into the archetypal, and visually illustrate recognizable characters and emotions. I am especially interested in using masks to animate inner parts of the psyche that are reflected on the larger world stage.

This event is part of Hope and Trauma in a Poisoned Land, the new exhibition that explores the impact of uranium mining on Navajo lands and people. The art exhibition will feature work by more than two dozen artists, including Navajo and Native artists. It will be open to the public August 15 – October 28, 2017.

Through the participating artists, Hope and Trauma will share stories and perspectives from Navajo people of their experiences due to radiation-related impacts to their bodies, their land, their water, their animals, and the natural materials and objects they use in their everyday lives. Art work will be based on a series of interactions, shared stories, and educational programs that took place in Cameron, Arizona, and in Flagstaff, in October 2016. Artists attended a four-day intensive education program which immersed them in the landscape where uranium mining and contamination has occurred on the Navajo Nation. They learned from Navajo community members, scientists, health care professionals, mental health professionals, and other experts about the impacts of uranium mining.

This blockbuster exhibition is funded in part through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Hope and Trauma in a Poisoned Land, photo by Tom Alexander

From 1944 to 1986, nearly 30 million tons of uranium ore were extracted from Navajo lands. At the time, Navajo miners and residents were not informed of the health impacts of working in the mines, or of the impact on their lands. Many Navajo people have died of kidney failure and cancer from conditions linked to uranium contamination. Research from the CDC shows uranium in babies born now.

More than one thousand abandoned uranium mines are located on the Navajo reservation in northeastern Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. Hundreds are located within fifty miles of Flagstaff near and in Cameron, Arizona. The federal government recently agreed to commit over $1 billion to clean up 94 abandoned mines on the Navajo Nation. The estimated cost to clean up all abandoned mines is likely too large to calculate.

Virtual reality headset by artist Klee Benally, photo by Tom Alexander

Hope and Trauma in a Poisoned Land is a partnership between the Cameron Chapter House of the Navajo Nation, the Flagstaff Arts Council, University of New Mexico Community Environmental Health Program, and Northern Arizona University.

Project partners followed the established model for art exhibitions that began with Fires of Change. That exhibition also featured a week-long training for participating artists that covered forest and fire ecology, giving artists education insight into the increase in size and frequency of wildfires in the American southwest, with a focus on Northern Arizona. This process ensures that participating artists are educated and informed about the complex issue of uranium mining before they created artwork for the exhibition.

Hope and Trauma will feature several educational events to be scheduled during the run of the exhibition. Check back on this site in summer 2017 for a detailed schedule of events.

Read the Arizona Republic’s in-depth story on uranium mining >

Funded in part by a grant from:

Hope and Trauma in a Poisoned Land is generously supported by:

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