DIGGING, a live performance piece in Lance Fung's NONUMENTS Exhibition. Funded by 5x5 (The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities)

The moment a shovel is pushed into the ground a connection to the land and a commitment to action begins.

The act of unearthing the ground is humbling, it builds strength and requires determination. Digging also unearths unrealized opportunities that would otherwise remain buried. In our performance installation we are using digging as a metaphor for the challenges we face. Should we define our experiences from manufactured sources and cultural invention? Or, do we choose to dig toward the center of who are, finding a solid foundation to move forward.

Digging in traditional Pueblo Clothing

Digging in traditional Pueblo Clothing

Digging will take place over thirty days. Beginning with level ground the team will work daily to create earthen mounds.  In the last four days the earth will be re-leveled. Participants in the performance will wear costumes representing different aspects of American culture like the service industry, business class, farmers, and criminals. Using hand tools dirt will be accumulated into mounds. Through more than 580 combined hours of labor, Digging demonstrates facing personal and social challenge.  

Although this performance lends itself to many interpretations about the workplace, inequality, and politics, the mounds of digging are ultimately acknowledgments of everyone’s connection to the earth.  The Waterfront community expresses the universal experience of land transitioning out of a natural state. This neighborhood is only blocks away from the Nations capitol, an enormous monument of power with global implications. Digging will become a permanent Nonument in our memory speaking to another kind of power.  


ARTIST INVOLVED

Nora Naranjo Morse, b. 1953

I live on the Santa Clara Pueblo reservation in Northern New Mexico. Both of my parents were Tewa indians. My father’s name was Mitchell. He was a part time builder and full time problem solver. Mitchell was quick with any tool and remarkable when it came to getting himself out of a fix. My mother’s name was Rose. She worked with clay and raised nine children. Rose was a survivor who navigated through life on her instincts and a third grade education. The people I come from have given me traits that as I get older, become more valuable. I too am a builder. My home I helped construct 35 years ago is made out of mud and straw.  I work everyday with a number of concepts and materials. I make art inspired by culture, social issues and environmental concerns. And like my father, I’m getting better at getting myself out of a fix.  I have shown at the White House, (Washington D.C.): The Canadian Museum of Civilization, (Ottawa, Canada): The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, (Washington D.C.): Site Santa Fe, (Santa Fe, New Mexico): Akiyoshidai International Art Village, (Japan).


Eliza Naranjo Morse, b. 1980. 

Pueblo Women creating waffle gardens to grow food.

Pueblo Women creating waffle gardens to grow food.

In my adolescence I got the idea that living near your parents was failure.  Now I’m discovering the richness that comes from being close to my family in a community whose families have generally been here for many generations. Experiences like  building a house,  teaching art to children, working at our community dump, farming, chores and art making fill up my days.  When I am making art it is delightful for me to illustrate coziness and adventure and to arrange things like used plastic.  It is cathartic for me to  create characters that express human experiences like  aging, awkwardness, love, shame and strength.  And as I mature I am compelled to make art about social and environmental subjects.  I have shown domestically and internationally at  Ekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts, (Ekaterinburg, Russia); Cumbre de el Tajin, (Veracruz, Mexico);  Chelsea Art Museum, (New York, New York); SITE Santa Fe (Santa Fe, New Mexico);  and Axle Contemporary, (Santa Fe, New Mexico).  Chimayo, New Mexico is where I share  studio with Alexis Elton who is a collaborative partner in Digging

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Alexis Elton, b. 1980.

Digging with inmate clothing.  Nora (Left), Eliza (Center) and Alexis (Right) in Espanola, New Mexico.

Digging with inmate clothing.  Nora (Left), Eliza (Center) and Alexis (Right) in Espanola, New Mexico.

Alexis Elton grew up in the Hudson Valley, New York and currently lives in Northern New Mexico where she co-operates a farm. Alexis sees many similarities between her art practice and the farming process influencing work and the relationship between sculpture, land, installation, and social dynamics, using traditional and nontraditional materials, such as remnants from the field. The impact is conceptual in terms of decay and renewal. Alexis earned a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Afterwards, Elton had a studio in Beacon, NY. Exhibitions include Kingston Biennial, Kinston, NY, Philips de Purry, NY, NY, Beacon Artists Union, Beacon NY & The Museum of Imagination, Hudson, NY.