‘PIVOT’ showcases a balance between traditional, contemporary Native art


“Prayers for Restoration” by Leandra Yazzie (Navajo)
(Adrian Gomez/Journal)

Skateboarding is a sport that has made its way into the fabric of popular culture.

At the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, “PIVOT” is comprised of over 135 skateboard decks from Native artists.

“The original premise started in Flagstaff,” says Paula Mirabal, IPCC head curator. “It’s traveled to four other places. We’re the fifth stop and our exhibit has some new pieces from different artists.”

Mirabal says what makes “PIVOT” interesting is that many of the artists are working outside of their medium.

“There are potters and beadworkers who have created some amazing pieces,” Mirabal says. “I’m so excited to be working with these artists – the skateboard decks are beautiful; the artists have terrific stories behind them that speak to the agility that they use to navigate through the maze of days between cultures. Additionally, there are many Native communities are represented in this show.”

“Path of Resistance” by Warren Montoya (Santa Ana/Santa Clara Pueblos) (Adrian Gomez/Journal)

The exhibit is co-curated by Landis Bahe (Diné/Navajo) and Kandis Quam (Zuni). It will be on display through Feb. 19, 2023.

” ‘PIVOT’ is about Native Americans integrating into a world and society that is not of our origin,” says Bahe. “It shows that we’re here – adapting and evolving. There are about 30 artists who have passed images known for generations onto something that is recognizable in society, which are skateboard decks.”

Bahe said he hopes that by using this medium, young people will feel drawn into the conversation.

“Pivoting is a remarkable feat, but growing up that way, a lot of our youth turn away from their culture,” Bahe says. “When that happens, then you see trauma and addiction. What we’ve done is create an opportunity for the youth to see something that demonstrates the navigation of living in someone else’s world.”

Quam wanted the exhibit to showcase Native art through a different lens.

“People are very opinionated about Native art and where it’s going,” Quam says. “This exhibit opens the mind up to possibilities of what artists can do. This is a beautiful balance between the traditional and the contemporary – this depicts this is the world we live in, and it feels best to me to meld the two together.”

“Animal Drummer” by Mavasta Honyouti (Hopi) (Adrian Gomez/Journal)

Mirabal is from Taos Pueblo and grew up in an artistic family.

While she is not an artist, she enjoys promoting Native art and artists, which is why she’s honored to highlight “PIVOT.”

“I came to IPCC to share my knowledge and experience in the Native art field. My being here is hopefully a continuation of bringing in Native art to show our visitors, constituents, but most importantly our Native communities so that they feel like they are welcome,” Mirabal says. “I first saw ‘PIVOT’ in Flagstaff at the Museum of Northern Arizona. I wasn’t working at the time but thought it would be a great idea to bring it to New Mexico. When I started here at IPCC, the curved walls in South Gallery, I thought would be a great space to install this exhibition.


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