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Pivot: Skateboard Deck Art

Pivot: Skateboard Deck Art

Unified by a common canvas, Native American artists express unique perspectives

On view Oct. 13 to March 31 at Museum of Northern Arizona

In an exhibition of diversity and unity, artists from varied traditions created Pivot: Skateboard Deck Art, featuring nearly 100 unique art pieces on identical canvases. The artists represent the entire region, including Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Zuni Pueblo, Acoma Pueblo, and Paguate, NM; Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tucson, Polacca, Shonto, Lukachukai, San Carlos, Tuba City, Blue Gap, Hotevilla, and Flagstaff, AZ; and Oakland, CA.

The exhibition will be open from Oct. 13 to March 31 at Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff, AZ, on the road to the Grand Canyon. There will also be a special preview for Northern Arizona University students on Oct. 12 from 7-9 pm, celebrating a new arrangement giving all NAU fulltime students free access to the museum.

Guest curators Duane Koyawena (Hopi) and Landis Bahe (Navajo) chose to provide more than 30 invited artists the same iconic canvas, so the resulting exhibition speaks to a pivotal moment in Native American art. It’s a time when Native American artists are expressing their tradition in new ways. Motifs found in ancient baskets, pottery and weaving become the basis for modern designs. Ancient stories are expressed in contemporary graphic style.

“We’re in a moment where we’re again losing our culture, but there’s also this subculture,” said Landis Bahe. “You’re going to see something very contemporary and very old school. Native art will probably not be the same.” 

Months ago Koyawena and Bahe sent out 100 blank skateboard decks to the artists, who live throughout the Southwest. The chosen artists represent many backgrounds, including Zuni, Hopi, Navajo, Comanche, O’odham, and Latinx artists. By bringing these artists together, working on identical canvases, Pivot celebrates both the commonality and differences among the tribal traditions.

“Hopi and Navajo, we’ve become so separated, generation after generation of being taught certain things. This show is a pivotal moment for us because we’re all coming together,” said Bahe.

“We wanted to unite artists and cultures, to bring them together as one,” said Koyawena. “We hope this show will inspire everyone in their lives and in any talents they may be pursuing.”

The artists also represent varying styles and techniques, from a traditional carver to a graffiti-style painter.

“Everybody is given the same canvas, then you’re going to have so many different results,” said Bahe.

The Museum of Northern Arizona is an appropriate home for this exhibition. Flagstaff is an important location in the artistic progression of Native American arts. It is a city where people from the Navajo and Hopi reservations come for education, work and supplies, and an important mixing zone for many cultures, where artists meet and cross-pollinate with artists from other traditions. ThePivot exhibition even includes a couple non-Native American artists, whose art has developed to reflect the influence of the Native American traditions.

The Pivot exhibition is sponsored by the NARBHA Institute and will include programming for youths. The NARBHA Institute seeks to advance well-being and integrated health through a resilient population health ecosystem. The Institute endeavors to build trust, steward sustainability, and empower growth through inclusive, collaborative solutions that are holistic, asset-oriented, and address the health needs of the diverse populations in our community.

Pivot includes art by Abel Nash (Polacca, AZ), Al Bahe (Shonto, AZ), Antoinette Thompson (Lukachukai, AZ), Antone Chee (Phoenix, AZ), Antone Chee and Zander Arizona (Phoenix, AZ), Bahe Whitethorne Sr., (Flagstaff, AZ), Buddy Tubinaghtewa (Phoenix, AZ), Douglas Miles (San Carlos, AZ), Duane Koyawena (Flagstaff, AZ), Dwayne Manuel (Scottsdale, AZ), Emmett Navakuku (Flagstaff, AZ), Felicia Gabaldon (Oakland, CA), Garrett Etsitty (Phoenix, AZ), Jason Garcia (Santa Clara Pueblo, NM), Jeremy Singer (Tucson, AZ), Jerrel Singer (Flagstaff, AZ), Jodie Herrera (Albuquerque, NM), Kandis Quam (Zuni Pueblo, NM), Elroy Natachu (Zuni Pueblo, NM), Keith Smith (Tuba City, AZ), Landis Bahe (Flagstaff, AZ), Leandra Yazzie (Blue Gap, AZ), Marla Allison (Paguate, NM; Laguna Pueblo), Mavasta Honyouti (Hotevilla, AZ), Michelle Lowden (Acoma Pueblo, NM), Nate Begay (Flagstaff, AZ), Nick Lawrence (Flagstaff, AZ), Ryan Gashweseoma (Flagstaff, AZ), Ryan Singer (Albuquerque, NM), Sky Black (Flagstaff, AZ), Thomas Breeze Marcus (Phoenix, AZ), James Johnson (Phoenix, AZ), Randall J. Wilson (Flagstaff, AZ)


Most of the art will be available for sale.

Earlier Event: October 12
Electric Desert
Later Event: January 20
PhxArt Amplified