This Saturday we spent a lot of time in the van but it was a nice last day with everyone. We had a conversation in the van about privalage and this was really nice to have with everyone. I like to think about things myself but sometimes you need to talk things out to see what others have to say and then that can become part of how you think about things. We were also able to cool down in a resivor in the heat of the day which was much needed, however a van got stuck, but we were still able to have fun. 



Today was Saturday. Conversations in the car about land use, the function of preservation, right interaction with the landscape. Knowing the history of a place helps one to respect its significance. But there is also a practice of constant respect and admiration, for which the knowledge only distracts. Faith mentions that the restriction of land is a kind of total preservation. My thought is that public lands is not the best use. the public cannot actually use this land, only regard it as a spectacle. Perpetuates the fetishization of landscape, the appropriation of beauty. If preservation is in mind, best use is restriction. 

We get to Elephant Butte, and there is a giant man-made reservoir. A long drive to get to the actual beach. The car is stuck so walking. The shore before us is filled by RVs. You can drive right up to the water here. I do not see our people so I continue left for a mile. As I go, I see the RVs increasing in size, scale. They take on awnings, grills, floaties, boats, sister colonies. I see four military trucks. The colonies condense, squeezing out any space, a wall around the lake extending as far as my eye can see. I find a small clear space and I eat and swim. 





This day was exhausting! I felt as though my emotions were jerked around as the heat and visual stimulation overwhelmed my psyche. The white sands were vast and inconceivably blinding in contrast with the blue sky. I felt that the group had lightened up from that experience, being out in a new and refreshing landscape with very few others around us. The rest of the day was challenging, but I do not regret that it happened.  I was in a daze while walking around at the missile sites and the Border Patrol Museum, as it was overwhelming to see these human creations in person. The sweat lodge was probably the most exciting and emotionally cleansing part of the day. I was nervous leading up to it because of my past with having a traumatic heat stroke. Although I knew that I would be doing it, I did not know that I would be doing all five rounds, which felt good and like I had done some really intense drugs. I couldn’t move afterward, in a good way. It was as though I had sweat out so many emotions from the past three weeks that I could hardly stand up. I do feel that some felt guilty if they did not do it, for which I felt bad. I also felt guilty for not helping with dinner, but I was also not able to move or concentrate on anything. The only thing I remember before going to bed in the Quonset hut that night was accidentally spilling relish into someone’s shoe, and of course, languidly cleaning it up. 



Today was Friday, and this was a big day. We went to the white sands national monument and the missile range and the border museum and the border and a sweat lodge. In this entry I think I’ll talk about the border things and then maybe the sweat. 

The border museum was huge and cruel in appearance, the power asserting kind, a kind of blankness, personlessness. Large flat walls, entrance is raised on a platform, looks like a government office. We go in and it is like dioramas and museum and scrapbook. It is kitchy and bad, but full of this, full walls of the empty narrative. Show the gear, the exploration, the heroism. It is like a fan club, a collectors house. The border looks like a game, not an exclusion, and the patrol are explorers, not police. This is no not speak of the violence. But this museum was mum to violence. 

Next to it is a garden walk, a sort of landscaped version of the surrounding ecology, featuring cacti and shrubs. Leads to an archaeology museum. Inside are typical objects in glass, one good story, and then mock dioramas of ancient people’s in their guise and action. Makes the story of people different from us. Exoticizes an other life. Reduces to spectacles and barbies. 

The museums relate to each other. Born of the same otherness. Mystification. The control of non whites in the past and in the present. White heroism and white knowledge. I don’t know. 

Then the real border. Large, big line river of cars, can’t see the border looks like a weird complex, people walking past in both ways, some weird city plaza, a large sculpture in the middle of the plaza, open on one side, benches and awnings on two, then the great bridge, so great, does not look like a bridge, wall of moving people. Surreal and carnival-like and absurd and empty and horrific. Then there is this bathroom. A metal box from the future. It erases the whole thing. It is absurd.

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Today was a long day full of many adventures. We hiked the sand dunes, saw a missile museum, saw a boarder control museum, saw the actual border and a bit of El Paso, checked into a fight hanger of an Air B&B, went to a sweat lodge, and finally had a little bbq ‘n pool party. Seeing the boarder control museum had a really large impact on me because of the insensitive way that they present themselves as a force that keeps all the bad people out. A lot of the language seemed to not be conscious of any larger context beyond the idea that that they were there specifically to keep people out. To experience all of this in a place that was very real was quite difficult because you are confronted by the reality that a place like this can really exist and has a place in the world. However, I went into the sweat for a last round which was very needed after the day I had. 

The sand dunes produced these amazing patterns which I captured on my phone and here is a composition where I layered and blended the same picture on top of itself with different effects on each layer.




What is a contemplative space? Is it a place to breathe deeply, listen deeply, feel deeply, sense deeply? These deep breaths create a sensation of uplifting, weightlessness. The body is listening as much as the ears, the skin seeing like eyes. The sweat lodge. Seven hot stones, lava rocks hold the heat. Cedar is placed on top of the rocks, begining to smoke and filling the air with a sweet smelling, heavy air. A song is sung, a prayer is said, sweat dripping down the bridge of my nose and down my back. Each breath is hot, almost suffocating. I can taste the salt on my lips as it drips into my mouth. The reverberation of the songs fill the body, using it as a resonator. Vibrations creating a tactile hearing experience. Then there was the feeling of the thick, heavy, sweat lolling off my body, accumulating and releasing. Releasing toxins, frustrations, etc. Euphoric, really. 


I was thinking a lot about ruins today. Starting off the day we drove by, stopped and walked among ruins of the city Abo in southern New Mexico. It was a moment of how architecture can describe the past. The memory of structure and landscape. Now seemingly dispersed mounds are all that’s left of a once economic trade center between indigenous Pueblo and Spanish settlers. Ironically the structure most intact to memorialize this relationship is a large church, once the city center. Displacement quickly comes to mind. The displacement of indigenous lives and histories. On the flip side of this we visited the town of Carriezozo. We experienced another type of ruin. The purchasing, remodeling, and re-functioning of a building down town into a theater, artist studio, and working shop. The church and artist studio seem distanced and close at the same time. Recalls the question of the perspective of ruins and what they come to symbolize, how they culturally function describe time? How do they speak for the past, present and future? And how do we inhabit the spaces of the past- as living or dead?

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Thinking about the suspension of death. The infatuation with the end of a life. Today we visited two separate mission ruins on national land. This preservation of the end, and the luxury of pausing (or at least slowing) the demise of erasure altogether seems to be a very human compulsion. This fascination with the end. A day or so ago while walking past a mission's yard full of crucifixes, Matt noted the "morbid fixation" with what was really a very short period of Christ's life. I think this theme of morbid fixation carries through in many aspects of life, religion and otherwise. I'm interested in suspending the death of domestic space or object relationships in my work. What marks the end of something? What marks the beginning? Is new ownership rebirth of inanimate things?



Our discussion in the van today was a great segway from the morning at Mitch’s studio and into tonight’s event. I was able to extract from the van conversation that interpersonal skills can be used in public artist practice. When we went to Paula and Mike’s studio, I could see the cultivation of group ideas just from being in the studio space and hearing about the residencies that happened there. Mike was so generous to share his works and Paula was giving with information of her practice as well as about the residency work that they do in their beautiful space. Just being around artists with genuinely good and generous personalities is very refreshing, as I did not feel like I was being judged or competing with other artists today. It was inspiring to not have that pressure weighing down on me. I was so thankful to be able to do glasswork with Mike, then to talk about Arabian horses with a woman at Paula and Mike’s potluck. I was re-energized after tonight. 

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HOLY SHIT today was net fantastic. I say net because I was feeling generally ill and low energy throughout the van time and ruins, and I don’t think I was really able to appreciate them given the heat and my general lack of bodily comfort. BUT the van delay this morning was really a ~blessing in disguise~ since it allowed time for a few of us to get a glass bead tutorial from Mitch, which was super exciting (I’m already planning how to save up to get my own equipment, I could easily see myself getting lost in late night glass experimentation the way Mitch does). I talked to Mitch about coming back next week after school ends to get a longer glass-working lesson, and my travel partners permitting I think it will happen.

Then, there was the absolutely awesome experience that was MoMaZozo. Aside from Paula and Mike’s inspiring work in itself (especially, for me, Paula’s work with wearable paintings and costuming and performance), AND their space and the town having so much kinetic and potential energy (respectively), the interactions with community members were really special.  My most impactful interaction of the potluck, at least in terms of immediate emotional connection, was my discussion with Diane about her project to create the first ever public library in the town (I look forward to one day returning to Carrizozo, getting a library card after it opens “sometime after Halloween but before Thanksgiving,” and maybe getting to participate in their storytime hours for pre-k kids).

We also had really fruitful conversation with Matt in the van afterwards, which I’ll hold off from discussing here in the hope that the conversation will develop further in the days to come.